Mofaz: If PM is serious, we could join the coalition; Yishai: Talks will lead nowhere, Hamas won't honor Abbas's agreement.
By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s dovish statements initiating direct talks with the Palestinians on Thursday led to condemnation and skepticism on the Right and renewed talk of Kadima joining the coalition.Kadima leader Tzipi Livni and a spokesman for her party declined to respond to Netanyahu’s overtures to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. But Livni’s party rival Shaul Mofaz spoke openly about the negotiations leading to changes in the coalition.RELATED:Israelis, Palestinians to work out framework agreementOpinion: Alchemists of peace“If by the end of the year we see that there are real intentions to reach an agreement with the Palestinians, Kadima will have to decide its path,” Mofaz told Army Radio.“The prime minister will have to decide whether he wants to expand his coalition and change its guidelines. If he does, there will be many in Kadima who will want to help reach a real agreement. Most Kadima members would be willing to give their backing from inside the government if there is a process that could lead to peace.”By contrast, Shas chairman Eli Yishai downplayed the talks, telling his party organ Yom Leyom that they would lead to nowhere, because Hamas would not honor Abbas’s agreement.“Let’s say [Abbas] makes an agreement with us, where we make painful sacrifices. Hamas and all the other terror organizations will start attacking again – so what did we do?” Yishai said.“We must stand up for our principles and never give up on them: Stop terror, recognize Israel as a Jewish state, stop provoking violence, and start negotiations without conditions, especially not the condition of a building freeze.”Yishai added that Shas’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, had opposed the construction moratorium in Judea and Samaria from its beginning, and his opinion has not changed.Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon (Israel Beiteinu) noted in a press release on Thursday that a PA cabinet minister had visited the families of suicide bombers while Abbas was meeting with Netanyahu.Ayalon referred to PA Minister for Prisoner Affairs Issa Karake, who visited the Abu Hamid family home to meet a mother whose four sons were sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Israelis and to give her an award.Karake praised the terrorists’ mother and her family’s contribution to the “struggle for Palestinian independence.”He also visited the family of Ayyat Al-Akhras, a suicide bomber who murdered two Israelis in a Jerusalem supermarket in 2002.“While negotiations are restarting in Washington, ministers in Abbas’s government are continuing with their incitement and encouraging acts of terrorism,” Ayalon said.“Abbas needs to immediately condemn his minister’s words and actions. These types of visits encourage terrorism, as we saw recently with the cold-blooded murder of four Israelis. The Palestinians need to make a decision; they cannot talk peace and at the same time encourage terrorism.”Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria chairman Danny Dayan, who is in Washington, criticized Netanyahu’s statements at the ceremony that launched the negotiations.“It is unfortunate and embarrassing to hear Netanyahu call Abu Mazen his partner while Israelis are being shot on the streets by Palestinian terrorists,” Dayan said.“It was worrying to hear the prime minister adopt Arab terminology by calling the heartland of Israel the West Bank.This sends a worrying message about his plans.”Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.
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