livni davos 298.
(photo credit: AP)
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas implied on Friday there was a limit to how long he would persist with efforts to form a unity government with Hamas, raising the possibility that he would move within weeks to call early elections if he fails.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said after meeting Abbas on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum that she and the Palestinian leader had tried to explore "any way to push the process." But she suggested the road to peace would be long, with their meeting just one among many.
Jordan's King Abdullah II told the forum that the need for progress was urgent because the Palestinian-Israeli standoff was at a "critical juncture."
"We cannot afford to miss this opportunity," Abdullah said, adding that the Palestinian-Israeli confrontation was a "firestarter" with vast potential to destabilize the region.
"I believe that time is running out" to solve the crisis, he said.
He said he hoped momentum would grow to restart talks after a meeting of the Quartet - the US, the European Union, Russia and the UN - in February in Washington.
Livni said, "The next big thing is the trilateral talks." she said, referring to the planned meeting between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Abbas and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sometime in the next month.
Abbas said he thought that meeting could move things forward.
"I think the Americans are really serious this time," he said.
Abbas said he would give two or three weeks more to pursue unity talks with Hamas and would expect to move toward calling early Palestinian elections.
Abbas's chief aide, Saeb Erekat, said that should not be interpreted as a hard deadline or as an attempt to press the negotiations with Hamas, which have been held up over the militant group's refusal to disavow its call for the destruction of Israel.
Abbas was going from Davos to Spain, where he was expected to meet with Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. Late last year, Spain joined France and Italy in proposing a Middle East peace initiative that has earned a lukewarm reception from Israel and the Palestinians.