Israel peace negotiator defends Abbas talks
Published Monday 19/05/2014 (updated) 21/05/2014 10:25
A file picture taken on Sept. 28, 2013 shows Israel's chief
negotiator Tzipi Livni addressing a conference in Washington
(AFP/File Nicholas Kamm)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israel's chief negotiator Tzipi Livni on Monday defended a decision to meet President Mahmoud Abbas after peace talks collapsed, in a move that drew sharp criticism from ministers.
"I would like to remind everyone that the conflict isn't over," Justice Minister Tzipi Livni told her HaTnuah party at a weekly meeting, according to a statement.
"We're still here and the Palestinians are still here. Our interest is to resolve the conflict, and ignoring reality is not an option," she said.
Livni came under fire for holding talks in London with Abbas on Thursday, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office and ministers distancing themselves from the meeting, insisting it was private and did not signal official intention to resume talks.
Israel pulled out of the talks in mid-April, saying it would not negotiate with any Palestinian government supported by Hamas after the leadership in the West Bank signed a unity deal with the rival Islamist rulers of Gaza.
The PLO blamed Israel's continued settlement construction, failure to release prisoners as promised, and its army's killings of over 60 Palestinians for the talks' demise.
"Ignoring the other side, not listening or talking, is irresponsible," Livni said.
"A resolution is best achieved through direct negotiations, but we can't ignore the agreement between Hamas and Fatah," she said, referring to Abbas' ruling party which dominates the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority.
"To all those politicians up in arms, I want to be clear -- we'll continue doing what we believe in, and that's what I did last week by meeting the president," Livni said.
Ma'an staff contributed to this report.