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Netanyahu: Livni did not speak for Israel in Abbas meeting
By TOVAH LAZAROFF
05/17/2014
Right-wing politicians call on justice minister to leave coalition following London parley with Palestinian Authority leader.
 
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (Hatnua) did not represent the State of Israel when she met in London with PA President Mahmoud Abbas, officials in Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s office told the media Saturday night.

Israel’s policy, as expressed in a government vote, is not to negotiate with a Palestinian government that is united with Hamas, a terrorist organization intent on destroying the Jewish state, Netanyahu told Livni in a message he sent to her before the Abbas meeting on Thursday.

An official from the Prime Minister’s Office who spoke with Livni said, “you will represent only yourself and not the government of Israel.”

Palestinian officials refused to comment on the London meeting. Livni’s spokeswoman could not be reached for comment. The justice minister wrote on her Facebook page about her London trip, but did not mention her conversation with Abbas.

It occurred after US Secretary of State John Kerry, who was also in London, met separately with Abbas and then with Livni.

On Saturday, right-wing Israeli politicians blasted Livni, who had been the chief negotiator with the Palestinians in the nine-month peace process that ended April 29.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) told Channel 2 that Israel’s policy with respect to suspending the talks was clear, and he imagined this was a private meeting she held because she was in London.

“I am certain that we are not talking about negotiations. Even if they played checkers, she has a right to do that.”

Liberman explained the frozen negotiations did not mean there were no other options, and he had presented an alternative plan to Netanyahu and to Kerry. He said Abbas was not a partner for peace.

Bayit Yehudi leader and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett’s attack on Livni took a more personal tone as he called on her to leave the coalition.

“Tzipi Livni has lost touch with the Israeli voter a long time ago. But with her last meeting she showed that she is like a satellite lost in orbit, with no connection to the planet Earth,” Bennett said.

She voted with the government to suspend negotiations with the Palestinians in light of the Fatah-Hamas unity pact and then she failed to comply with the very decision she had supported, Bennett said.

“If it’s difficult for her to comply with the government decision, then the door is open for her to leave [the coalition],” he said.

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz of the Likud charged that Livni was addicted to negotiating with the Palestinians and suggested she enter a detox program.

Opposition and Labor leader Isaac Herzog called on Livni to quit the government and join the fight for a two-state solution that would preserve Israel’s Jewish and democratic nature.

“The prime minister and the foreign minister have proven they belong to the binational camp and they are not even ashamed of it. Their public declaration that Livni does not represent Israel shows they no longer need her party as a fig leaf,” Herzog said.

On Friday, Netanyahu discussed the frozen peace process with US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel as he wrapped up a visit to Israel.

“One of the things we have found, unfortunately, is that our Palestinian neighbors are moving ahead in a pact with Hamas. The United States has designated Hamas rightly as a terrorist organization, and obviously the Palestinians cannot have a pact with Hamas and peace with Israel,” Netanyahu said.

“We’re concerned too that in both Gaza and in the PA-controlled areas, there is continual incitement and propaganda against the very existence of the Jewish state.

A recent ADL study, published a few days ago, talks about the fact that in both places anti-Semitic incitement is the most troubling on the planet, and that is something that I think hinders peace. I think the Palestinians have to make a simple choice, a pact with Hamas or peace with Israel, but they can’t have both,” Netanyahu said.

The two men also discussed the threat from Iran’s nuclear program.

Hagel told Netanyahu: “I want to assure you, prime minister, and the people of Israel, of the United States’ continued commitment to ensuring Iran does not get a nuclear weapon, as President [Barack] Obama has said, and that America will do what we must to live up to that commitment.”
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