Livni meets Abbas in Amman, urges renewed talks

Opposition leader tells PA president he should return to talks ahead of forming gov't with Hamas, "before it's too late."

Livni Abbas meeting in Amman 311 (photo credit: Courtesy Kadima Spokesmans office)
Livni Abbas meeting in Amman 311
(photo credit: Courtesy Kadima Spokesmans office)
Kadima head Tzipi Livni met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Jordan on Wednesday, and asked him to renounce unilateral steps toward statehood and to fight Islamic extremism.
“The Middle East is changing, and the freeze [in peace talks] serves the interests of extremists throughout the Arab world, who take advantage of the conflict,” Livni told Abbas.
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“We must act now and work together against Islamic extremist forces,” she said. “It is clear to everyone that serious negotiations can reduces the damage.”
Livni was joined on her trip by Kadima MK Ronnie Bar-On and former Kadima ministers Tzachi Hanegbi and Haim Ramon. The four held a joint press conference in the Knesset upon their return from Amman.
“The purpose of the meeting was to call for Abbas to return to negotiations with Israel at a time that the whole Arab world is changing and extremists are getting stronger,” Livni said. “We need to return to talks before the [PA’s] treaty with Hamas is signed.
“Now is the time to talk, before Hamas tries to force it’s opinions on the PA. We must take advantage of this window before it’s closed,” she said.
The opposition leader said that she did not meet with Abbas to “negotiate instead of the Israeli government,” and that if Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu took steps to restart talks, Kadima would support him.
At the same time, however, she said that the PA “must accept the Quartet’s conditions and recognize the State of Israel.”
“Both sides are responsible,” Livni said.
The Kadima leader would not give further details of her conversation with Abbas, saying that she must meet with Netanyahu first.
In addition, Livni commended the government for deciding on Wednesday to approve the release of PA tax funds. “It’s their money, not ours. The money is meant to pay the salaries of those who allow us to live in peace,” she said, referring to PA security personnel.
When asked why Hanegbi and Ramon traveled with her to Amman, and not current Kadima MKs, Livni said: “We are all senior Kadima officials.”
“Hanegbi and Ramon have more experience and more of an understanding of our talks with the Palestinians than any of the MKs who asked why they weren’t invited,” Bar-On said.
MK Danny Danon (Likud) said, “Livni has yet to accept the fact that she is not prime minister, and her embarrassing attempts to be relevant on the diplomatic scene are pointless.
“She should solve her problems in Kadima before she tries to solve our problems with the Palestinians,” Danon said.
A senior government official commented on the Livni-Abbas meeting by saying that while it was “very nice” that the PA leader agreed to meet with the head of the opposition, “the problem is that he is refusing to meet with the prime minister and the government of Israel.”
Herb Keinon contributed to this report.