Livni: ‘Time running out’ for peace process

By Yaakov Katz, October 10, 2008

Prime Minister-designate and Kadima Party chairwoman Tzipi Livni has given the public a taste of her diplomatic vision for Israel while warning that time is running out to reach a peace deal with the Palestinians.

In her first foreign-policy address since winning the Kadima primary last month, Ms Livni took Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to task for a Rosh Hashanah interview in which he called on Israel to cede nearly all of the territories won in the 1967 Six-Day War.

"We passed the stage where we have to prove that Israel wants peace," Ms Livni said at the Foreign Ministry's Conference for Policy and Strategy. "Israel wants to reach peace with all of its neighbours, including Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinians."

Throughout the week, Ms Livni had discussions with Defence Minister Ehud Barak on whether the Labour Party will join the government she must form by November 3 or face elections. Ms Livni is also holding negotiations with the strictly Orthodox Shas Party.

In veiled criticism of Mr Olmert, who has been pushing strongly for a "shelf peace agreement" by the end of the year, Ms Livni said that Israel needed to run the negotiations "responsibly".

"The state of Israel dreams of peace but we are in a reality that is not simple," she told the audience that included Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Malki, former German foreign minister Joschka Fischer, US ambassador James Cunningham and French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner.

"The diplomatic processes need to continue and we need to continue on the correct path," she said.
Ms Livni said that the different process in the region - Iran's race to nuclear power and Hamas and Hizbollah's military buildups in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon - meant that "time is not working in our favour".

Last updated: 11:27am, October 10 2008