Livni, Abu Ala exchange ‘niceties’

Former FM, ex-PA premier speak at Jerusalem's King David Hotel.

Livni Abu Ala 311 (photo credit: Itzki Edri)
Livni Abu Ala 311
(photo credit: Itzki Edri)
Opposition leader Tzipi Livni met with former Palestinian prime minister Ahmed Qurei at Jerusalem’s King David Hotel Sunday ahead of a conference at which both were speakers.
Livni, a former foreign minister, had refrained from meeting with Palestinian officials since Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu formed his government because she had not wanted to be seen as undermining his diplomatic efforts.
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Livni and Qurei, also known as Abu Ala, engaged in substantive talks when Livni was foreign minister, but her associates said Sunday’s meeting had encompassed nothing more than “niceties.” Their speeches were part of a conference titled “The Israeli-Palestinian Proximity Talks: Lessons from Past Negotiations,” which was organized by Hebrew University’s Harry S. Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace in conjunction with the Konrad Adenaur Stiftung group.
At the conference, Qurei said Netanyahu had not really frozen West Bank settlement construction, and added that Israel’s actions were preventing direct talks.
“I don’t think it is possible for the Palestinians to begin direct negotiations without Israel freezing settlements or at least commitments from the Americans on borders and security,” he said.
He also complained that Netanyahu had deviated from the course taken by the government in which Livni had served. “If there is no stable policy, there will be no process,” he said.
During her own talk, Livni mocked the Netanyahu government for not getting direct peace talks off the ground. She said the Annapolis talks, which took place while she was foreign minister, had not failed, explaining that they had been stopped by elections.
“Less than two years ago, we met at this hotel a few times a week,” she said, referring to her meetings with Qurei.
“The press wasn’t here because it was not news. It was just the ongoing relations between the Israelis and Palestinians.
Now there are no talks about how to end the conflict.”
Livni warned that while Israel would have to make concessions for peace, the lack of peace would prove more costly.
“The price of not having an agreement for Israel is higher than the price of having an agreement,” she said.

Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.