At the start of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's diplomatic mission to the region, Israel's top negotiator acknowledged on Sunday that there were problems trying to frame a blueprint for a peace deal with the Palestinians.
The two sides are at odds over whether the blueprint should spell out ways to resolve core issues such as final borders between Israel and a future Palestinian state, sovereignty over Jerusalem, and a solution for Palestinian refugees.
"There is no tension in the meetings, there is a good atmosphere, in fact, but yes, there are problems," Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Israel's lead negotiator, said before meeting with Rice. "There is a willingness to do this, even though the situation on the ground, especially in Gaza Strip, is complicated," Livni said.
According to Haaretz, Livni told Rice Israel's security must be assured before a Palestinian state can be created. "There are differences of opinion are over the road map. We must reach a basic understanding that the creation of a Palestinian state should occur only after Israel's security is established."
Livni also stressed Israel would not relinquish its demand that the road map plan be implemented, despite the Palestinian suggestion to advance talks independently from it. "The situation is complicated," Livni said. "One must understand that we have a shared interest with the moderates in the [Palestinian] Authority, and they need to understand that first there must be security, and only then a Palestinian state. The problem is not over making a joint declaration, but what its content would be."