Thursday, December 1, 2011

Netanyahu chastises Livni over meeting with Abbas: 'Peace negotiations has to be only with Israeli elected government'

(Israelhayom).Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chastised opposition leader Tzipi Livni on Thursday a day after the latter held a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Jordan.

The opposition leader stressed that Netanyahu was notified ahead of the meeting and that he would be briefed "in person" on the topics that were discussed. The Prime Minister's Office, however, said that Livni's meeting in Jordan was "solely her idea" and that the prior notification she had mentioned was no more than a phone call minutes before the meeting began.

"If the Palestinians want to resume peace negotiations, the only way to do it is with the elected Israeli government," Netanyahu said to Livni during a phone conversation. He later cancelled the meeting the two had scheduled for later in the day, citing time-table obstacles.

On Wednesday, Livni set out on a campaign to urge Abbas to return to the negotiation table. Livni was accompanied by MK Roni Bar-On and former ministers Haim Ramon and Tzachi Hanegbi on her trip to Amman. Following the meeting with Abbas, Livni told Jordanian reporters that her aim was to "urge Abbas to resume talks with Israel before he signs a deal with Hamas, while the Arab world is changing before our eyes."

MK Ofir Akunis, who heads the ruling Likud party's rapid response team, accused Livni of undermining the government, saying, "Instead of supporting the coalition's battle against Palestinian evasion and burgeoning relationship with Hamas, Kadima is fawning over the Palestinians in an embarrassing way."

Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) described the meeting as a manipulation attempt. "This is another attempt by Kadima to hint to the Palestinians that they should not resume negotiations with the current [Israeli] leadership, but rather wait for the election of a more convenient party which may concede on refugees, borders and Jerusalem," Erdan said, referring to core points of contention in talks with Palestinians: the right of return for Palestinian refugees, the geographic borders of a future Palestinian state and the division of Israel's capital between the two states.

MK Danny Danon (Likud) took an even harsher stance, saying, "Livni has not yet accepted the fact that she is not in power."