Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni: 'Israel Is Not Going to Show Restraint'

Lally Weymouth
Saturday, January 10, 2009

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told Newsweek-The Post's Lally Weymouth that the conflict in Gaza is not a fight of Israelis against Palestinians but a case in which Israel represents moderates in the region, including the Palestinian Authority. Excerpts:

Q. How do you respond to the pressure for a cease-fire from the international community?

A. I don't like the term cease-fire since it looks like an agreement between two legitimate sides. At the end of the day, this is not a conflict between two states but a fight against terror. . . . We need to fight in Gaza because they [Hamas] have targeted Israel for eight years. We are fighting in order to weaken them and to affect their ability to target Israel in the future.

To do that, don't you need the Egyptians to exert tighter control over the border crossing?

Yes, there are three parameters. One is missiles coming from Iran. The other is Egypt itself, and the third is the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.

Is the idea that Egypt will now take a more active role in stopping the smuggling?

This must be stopped by Israel or someone else. In six months, Hamas has changed the range of the missiles from 20 kilometers to 50 kilometers. This now threatens 1 million Israelis. We used to say it was just the southern part of Israel but . . . now parts in the center of Israel are under threat. We needed to give an answer to their rearmament. . . .

We need to know that at the end of this military operation, we will not face the rearmament of Hamas.

Is Iran behind it all?

Oh, yes, clearly. We know that. When they started, the missiles were homemade -- made in the Gaza Strip. But not anymore. Now they are professional, coming from Iran.

How long do you think this operation is going to take?

It depends. First we need to find out whether they understand that Israel is no longer a state which they can target while hoping for restraint. Israel is going to defend itself.

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