Fatah: Livni constrained by settler-led government

Shaath doubts Kerry's chances of success in relaunching talks, calls on Israel to honor commitments made on settlement freeze.

June 13, 2013 13:14
1 minute read.
Nabil Sha'ath

Nabil Sha'ath 370. (photo credit: Melanie Lidman)

Former Palestinian foreign minister Nabil Shaath expressed doubt Thursday that Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and US Secretary of State John Kerry could succeed in restarting diplomatic negotiations.

Shaath, who heads the foreign relations committee of Fatah, said he was still hopeful about achieving a peace agreement with Israel, but dismissed the ability of the leader of a party that has only six MKs to have enough influence, as the minister in charge of negotiations.

“She is very constrained with this coalition,” Shaath said in a meeting with Israeli journalists in Ramallah organized by the One Voice organization.

“You need a bold program by Mr. Netanyahu, a change in the coalition or an election. I don’t see this coalition, which is run by settlers, to have a chance. She doesn’t have a real chance.” Shaath said that if Netanyahu would suspend settlement building and free prisoners who are in prison since 1993, there would be negotiations. He said those demands were not pre-conditions, but commitments Israel made long ago.

“All we are saying is don’t deepen colonization while you negotiate,” he said. “We are not asking you to move the settlers, just not deepen [their building].”

Shaath said the Palestinians would continue meanwhile to use every possible international forum to advance the Palestinian cause. He called US Secretary of State John Kerry a friend, but expressed skepticism about the support he had in Washington.

“The man is serious and wants to get something done,” Shaath said. “But international politics do not move by how nice and intelligent the man is.

There needs to be an American commitment that peace is very important in this world, and America will sit at the table to make sure that it happens.”

Shaath mocked Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon, repeatedly calling him “His Majesty.” He said Danon’s statements about the government not intending to advance the peace process would harm Palestinian morale.

“If I was Netanyahu I would have fired him,” Shaath said. “He is causing enough harm to get frustrating poll results. What do you expect the Palestinian people to feel when they read junk like this?”

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