Remarks With Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni Before Their Meeting

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Villa Taverna
Rome, Italy
May 8, 2013

SECRETARY KERRY: Thanks, all, for being patient. We appreciate it. I am really very pleased to welcome Minister Tzipi Livni to the American Ambassador’s residence, Villa Taverna, here in Rome, together with the Special Envoy from Israel on these talks, Yitzhak Molcho. And this is a continuation of a number of conversations that we’ve been having. Most recently, we had a conversation in Washington; we did not have time to complete the task. And so she is on her way back to Israel, and I am on my way back to the United States, and this was a convenient way to complete the conversation, which is important right now because we are really working with very serious purpose on the behalf of everybody who’s been part of this – Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Abbas, the folks working around them. I met last week in Washington with Saeb Erekat, the envoy for President Abbas.

And I think it’s fair to say that we are working through a threshold of questions, that we’re doing it with a seriousness and purpose that I think Minister Livni would agree with me has not been present in a while. And we all believe that we’re working with a short time span. We understand an imperative to try to have some sense of direction as rapidly as we can.

So I’m grateful for their ability to be here. I think the announcement by the Arab League last week was an important step forward. And I spoke again this morning with Prime Minister Hamad bin Jasim of Qatar, who represented – who was the chairman of that committee. They want to keep the progress moving. They have asked for ongoing meetings, and we will have those ongoing meetings, but with a purpose. We don’t want to have a meeting for the sake of a meeting.

So over the course of the next weeks, we’re going to continue our work. I will be traveling back to Israel to meet with both Prime Minister Netanyahu as well as President Abbas around the 21st or 22nd of this month. So I’m grateful for the Minister for coming here, and we look forward to a productive session this afternoon.

JUSTICE MINISTER LIVNI: Thank you. I would like to express our appreciation to your efforts. We feel that peace between Israel and the Palestinians is in Israel interest, and I believe it is also in Palestinian interest. But yet we are, after some years of stalemate, and your determination and enthusiasm and efforts can change the realities. And I believe that what you are doing here will create hope in the region, because some of us lost hope. And this is something that we need, not just as a vague idea, but something which is concrete and thank you for (inaudible).

And I do believe that having the meeting with the Arab League and having the statement come from Hamad bin Jasim after the meeting was very good news, because there’s the need for the support of the Arab states. I hope that they would also support Abu Mazen in entering the negotiations room, giving the support of negotiations, and an understanding, which is very important for us that peace with the Palestinians means also peace with the Arab world. So I wish to congratulate you on this successful meeting with the Arab League.

MS. PSAKI: Okay. Thanks so much, guys. Thanks so much. Okay.

QUESTION: Minister Livni, is Israel thinking about reciprocating the Arab League gesture in any way?

SECRETARY KERRY: Folks, we’ll have more to say as we go forward here, I promise you.

PRN: 2013/T05-05