Livni: Netanyahu, Abbas Should Hold Direct Talks

Israel's chief negotiator says Housing Minister Uri Ariel intentionally sabotaged talks by issuing tenders in East Jerusalem.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry talks to Justice Minister Tzipi Livni
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry talks to Justice Minister Tzipi Livni during a meeting at the U.S. Ambassador's residence in Rome May 8, 2013. Reuters

Israel's chief negotiator with the Palestinians, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, called on Saturday for more direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians despite what she termed "a real crisis."

"The question is not who is to blame for the crisis," Livni told Channel 2's Meet the Press, adding that a missed opportunity for the Palestinians is a lost opportunity for Israel as well.

"We need more direct talks with the Palestinians," she said, "and between Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas."

Livni nevertheless attacked the Palestinian president's move to apply for membership in UN institutions, calling it "a big mistake." She said that "Abbas needs to prove he is a partner," but that Israel has to deal with Palestinian decisions it finds unacceptable

"We have a responsibility to get over the initial anger and decide what to do next." She said she will continue to fight for a resolution.

Livni also blasted Housing Minister Uri Ariel, saying he "intentionally sabotaged" the talks by issuing construction tenders in East Jerusalem.

Ariel said in response that Livni "failed miserably" after receiving unlimited credit to make peace and release murderers" and is now looking to blame "anyone but herself."

Talks to resume Sunday

The Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams will meet again on Sunday, under the auspices of American envoy Martin Indyk, a senior Israeli official said earlier on Saturday.

Livni and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's special representative Isaac Molcho will represent Israel, while chief negotiator Saeb Erekat and Intelligence head Majd Freij will represent the Palestinians.

The meeting will be the second since the peace talks collapsed last week. The previous meeting last Thursday night ended in failure, with both sides swapping bitter recriminations.