Israel will not hold peace talks with Mahmoud Abbas because he cannot deliver the goods as long as Hamas controls
his government, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Monday, signaling a hardening of Israel's position and a growing rift with the US.
The US and the European Union have suggested they will keep working with the moderate Abbas even if a Hamas government takes office in coming weeks.
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On Monday, EU foreign ministers were expected to approve continued aid to the Palestinian caretaker government. That could include paying $48 million to help run utilities and authorizing the World Bank to unblock around $60 million to pay the salaries of Palestinian Authority employees.
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, meanwhile, listed the Jewish settlement blocs in the West Bank he believes should be annexed as Israel draws its final borders. Most of the settlements he named are relatively close to Israel, but also included Ariel, as well as the Jordan Valley.
The issue of how to deal with Abbas and a Hamas-led government was the main topic at a meeting Sunday between Livni and US envoy David Welch. Israel Radio reported that Welch presented a policy in which the United States would work directly with Abbas instead of the Hamas-led government.
Livni disagreed. The moment Abbas appointed Hamas to form the new government, the Palestinian Authority became "illegitimate," she told Army Radio on Monday.
Israel does not want to be in a situation in which it is dealing with Abbas, who is "more moderate, believes in two states ... but is powerless to deliver the goods or enforce it on the Palestinian Authority," Livni said.
"There were elections, Hamas won. All the attempts to embrace Abu Mazen ... will not help. It is not grandstanding, it is not an attack but a realistic analysis of the situation," Livni said.
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat called Livni's remarks "totally unacceptable." Erekat, a member of Abbas' Fatah party, said: "The Israelis are trying to undermine the Palestinian people in general because they don't differentiate between one Palestinian and the other."