Justice Minister Tzipi Livni told Channel 2 on Saturday that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu erred in attacking Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in light of Ramallah’s readiness to help Israel in locating the three kidnapped Jewish teenagers.
During an appearance on Channel 2’s Meet the Press, Livni said that the close cooperation between the Israeli military and the Palestinian security services in the West Bank offers an opportunity for a return to the negotiating table after the resolution of the kidnapping crisis.
“Our immediate goal should be to find the boys and the kidnappers as well,” Livni said. “We need to hit Hamas militarily and politically. At the same time, however, we need to work with the Palestinian government, and we need to see if its possible to return to negotiations with Abu Mazen.”
Livni told Channel 2 that she supported the IDF operations against the Hamas infrastructure in the West Bank so long as it served a larger purpose for an eventual return to peace talks with Abbas.
“I condemned Abu Mazen when he decided to form a unity government with Hamas,” the justice minister, who is Israel’s lead negotiator in peace talks with the Palestinians, said. “I think he realizes he made a mistake when he linked up with Hamas.”
Livni praised Abbas’ statements this week condemning the kidnapping and pledging Ramallah’s cooperation in locating the teens.
“Israel needs to take on a two-pronged strategy,” Livni said. “It needs to hit Hamas hard, and it needs to remember who its partner in the negotiations is. Our cooperation with the PA is in accordance with Israel’s interests.”
“Abu Mazen represents the nonviolent Palestinian struggle for statehood, which is precisely why Israel needs to talk to him,” the justice minister said.