Livni: Abbas needs to prove he is a partner for peace to resolve 'crisis'

Chief Israeli negotiator says she intends to continue "struggle" to reach agreement with the Palestinians.

Livni and Erekat 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)
Livni and Erekat 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)
Chief Israeli negotiator Tzipi Livni stressed on Saturday evening that she was planning to continue her diplomatic mission to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians despite the major stumbling blocks that emerged this week, bringing talks to a halt.
"I don't intend to give up the struggle for an accord," the justice minister said on Channel 2's "Meet the Press."
However, she said the Israelis and Palestinians should hold more direct talks with each other and depend less on third-party mediation by the United States.
"Part of what happened in the past few months was more negotiation between us and the United States and less with the Palestinians," Livni said.
While Livni blasted the Palestinians, calling their application to more than a dozen international organizations and treaties "a blatant violation," she refrained from placing singular blame on the current status quo and expressed her interest in salvaging the floundering talks.
Livni called on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to "prove that he is a partner" for peace.
"We are in a crisis," she said. "What happened in the last week will need to be repaired."
Livni also criticized right-wing politicians from the coalition's Bayit Yehudi faction for their conduct amid the negotiation process, including Economy Minister Naftali Bennett and Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel.
She slammed Ariel for announcing tenders for new settlement construction at inopportune moments during the diplomatic process.
"He tried to sabotage what I do alongside Prime Minister [Binyamin Netanyahu]," she charged.
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are likely to meet on Sunday, together with US envoy Martin Indyk, to discuss a possible way forward, a source familiar with the talks told Reuters.
The US-mediated talks were deadlocked after Abbas applied on Tuesday for membership of 15 international organizations and treaties. Overnight Wednesday, Israel announced that it had cancelled a fourth release of 26 Palestinian prisoners in light of the unilateral Palestinian action.
Palestinian officials said Tuesday’s move was a response to Israel’s failure to meet the March 29 deadline for the release of the final batch of prisoners.
Under the terms of an agreement for the current round of negotiations that resumed in July, Israel was to release 104 long-serving Palestinian prisoners in four phases, and the Palestinians were to refrain from unilateral moves in the international arena.
Khaled Abu Toameh and Reuters contributed to this report.