Livni: Netanyahu must make decisions that will save talks

Kadima leader says PM "must choose the real long-term interests of Israel rather than his own personal political interests;"

Tzipi Livni 311 Ariel J (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Tzipi Livni 311 Ariel J
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Leading opposition party Kadima called once again on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Saturday to make the proper decisions that will facilitate the continuing of peace talks with the Palestinians. The comments came in an official announcement released in the wake of Netanyahu's assertion that construction in settlements would continue despite Palestinian threats to leave the negotiations if building continues.
Opposition leader Tzipi Livni said in the statement that "Netanyahu knows the possibility of making decisions that will ensure continued negotiations is in his hands and that Kadima will support any decision that facilitates the talks and strengthens Israel's security interests."
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Livni added that a "blow up" of the talks would have grave consequences for Israel and that Kadima would fight the implementation of decisions that could potentially derail negotiations.
"Netanyahu must choose [to act in] the real long-term interest of Israel rather than in his own personal political interest," Livni stated.
On Friday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon spoke on the phone with Prime Minister Netanyahu, Palestinian President Abbas, and US Middle East envoy Mitchell, after which he reportedly stated that he hoped Israel "expands its restraint policy in the settlements."
Also on Friday, Netanyahu told a closed meeting of his advisers that "moderate and restrained" building in West Bank settlements in the coming year will not affect the peace process.
Netanyahu's comments followed meetings he held on Friday with George Mitchell and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in which both pleaded with him to extend the moratorium on West Bank settlement construction, as the Palestinians stuck to their insistence that all building must stop for fledgling peace talks to continue.
"The international community needs to call on the Palestinians to remain in the peace talks. It's in the Palestinians best interest just as it is in our own best interest," Netanyahu told his advisers.
"My government has made a number of unilateral gestures in order to promote the peace talks," explained the prime minister. "Unfortunately, unlike us, the Palestinians are only toughening their stance."
Netanyahu continued, "For 17 years they have negotiated with the Israeli government while building was underway, including in the final year of the previous government. It was not easy for us to freeze new building in Judea and Samaria for 10 months, but I've fulfilled all of my obligations to the Palestinians, the American government and the international community."
"We froze construction in order to give Abu Mazen [Palestinan Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] an opening to enter into direct negotiations without preconditions. Now I expect the Palestinians to show some flexibility and remain in the talks."
Abbas on Friday told Mitchell that the there will be no further peace negotiations with Israel as long as building in settlements continues, Israel Radio reported.
Mitchell met with Abbas in Ramallah on Friday after having met with Netanyahu in the hopes of finding a compromise that could save the talks which have stalled following Israel's decision earlier this week not to extend the moratorium.
Following Abbas's meeting with Mitchell, a Palestinian Authority spokesman said that no breakthrough to revive the talks had been made and that Israel's insistence on continuing construction in the settlements is preventing progress towards reaching a peace agreement.
Senior Palestinian Authority official Yasser Abed Rabbo added that Israel's refusal to halt settlement building is equivalent to a refusal to continue the peace talks which began early in September.