JERUSALEM — In a briefing at the Government Press Office on Sunday afternoon, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni called on the Israeli government to deal with the “pragmatic” factions of the Palestinian delegation in Cairo to achieve a sustainable, long-term peace deal.
“On one hand, we have the camp of pragmatics, moderates, Israel, Egypt the legitimate Palestinian Authority, some Gulf States,” Livni said. “And this is where the international community is, the United States, Europe, the leaders of the free world, they understand that we need two states for two peoples. On the other side, we have the extremists, Hamas, Hezbollah, and new Islamists acting in Iraq and Syria. They represent something completely different. They are fighting against the infidel, against us, and since this is a religious conflict for them, well, it’s more complicated to solve.”
“Nobody can afford to send a message to these extremists, that they are going to get what they want,” she continued. “[Hamas is] fighting for their own legitimacy as a terror organization, so if they get what they want, maybe we’ll have a ceasefire for a while, but we won’t have peace.”
Livni explained that long-term peace prospects between Israel and Gaza depend on several “parameters” already widely accepted by both the Israeli government and the international community. These parameters include, she said, the immediate cessation of hostilities in the Gaza Strip, the demilitarization of terrorist factions, and the need to balance the economic and social needs of the people of Gaza with Israel’s security concerns.
“I hope that we can see a new order in Gaza,” Livni said. “I don’t know whether it’s possible or not. It depends on whether we can stick to these parameters. Hamas must understand that it cannot gain by using terror.”
At one point, Livni cited the recently-recovered Hamas “combat manual,” which explains the “benefits” of using Gazan civilians as human shields.
“We are trying to avoid civilian casualties, while on the other side, they are using these civilians to prevent us from attacking them,” said Livni. “When they have civilian casualties, they use it as leverage on Israel and the international community to stop the operation.”
Fighting between Israel and Hamas continued on Sunday, as terrorists fired barrages of rockets at cities across southern Israel, including Ashkelon, Netivot, and the Eshkol Regional Council. Israel reportedly struck 90 terror targets in retaliatory airstrikes since midnight on Saturday, according to Israel’s Channel 2 News.
Hamas is reportedly reviewing an Egyptian proposal for another 72-hour ceasefire, according to the Times of Israel. The Israeli government has repeatedly said it will not negotiate with the Palestinian delegation on a long-term diplomatic solution without a return to a ceasefire.
When asked whether the Israeli delegation would return to Cairo Sunday night for renewed negotiations, Livni said it was a two-step process, reiterating the need for a guaranteed ceasefire before negotiations could continue.
“Let’s see what happens with that,” she said.