National Press Club

Hamas Can't be Rearmed, Israeli Foreign Minister Says at Newsmaker

January 19, 2009

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni

Photo/Image: Marshall Cohen

Halting the rearmament of Hamas, the militant government that controls Gaza, is crucial to a cease fire, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said at a Newsmaker Friday at the Club.

She was in Washington to meetd with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to sign an accord with the U.S. aimed at halting weapons smuggling across Egypt's border with Gaza.

"The last thing that we want to see is rearmament of Hamas after the military operation," Livni said at the Newsmaker. "The right of Israel to self-defense includes not only the moment in which Israel is being targeted, but also when there is a continuous flow of weapons coming to Gaza Strip."

Livni said peace talks with Fatah, the Palestinian political party that governs the West Bank, would continue even as Israel is at war with Hamas.

"In order to reach a peace process, this is something that we can do only with those who understand and share our vision and the international vision and the United States vision of two states with two peoples living side by side in peace and security," Livni said. "Hamas is not part of it."

The goal of the military operation is to stop Hamas' rocket attacks on southern Israel, she said.

"If after the military operation, they target Israel again, so we can launch another one and another one because this is a war against terror, and a war against terror doesn't end with a peace process shaking hands in the White House," Livni said.

Livni, who is running to succeed Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, has asked Israeli President Shimon Peres for early elections, which were scheduled for February.