Israel Opposition Leader to Abbas: Unilateral Moves at UN Won't Aid Statehood Bid

Tzipi Livni, in Jordan meeting, urges Palestinian President to engage in direct talks with Israel; Hamas: Abbas not serious about achieving unity cabinet.

The Palestinian Authority must return to Mideast peace talks with Israel, Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday, adding that Palestinians should not allow themselves to be swept up by extreme Islamic forces.

Livni's comments were made during a meeting with Abbas in the Jordanian capital of Amman, which was also attended by former Kadima MKs Haim Ramon and Tzachi Hanegbi as well as current Kadima MK Roni Bar-On.

Tzipi Livni and Mahmoud Abbas - AFP - 30.11.2011

"Don't let the extreme Islamic forces sweep over you as well," Livni told Abbas, adding that the "Middle East is changing and the [peace talks] stalemate is serving the extremists who are taking advantage of the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict across the Arab world."

The Kadima chairperson urged Abbas to work in cooperation with Israel to fend off extremist elements, warning the PA president against letting "Hamas solidify its agenda through forming a joint government with you."

"There's no change for peace with [Hamas]. Now, before a unity cabinet is formed, faced with regional changes, and instead of unilateral steps at the UN, negotiations must be started before it's too late, and I urge you to do so before it's too late," Livni added.

Abbas, in turn, told Livni that he considered peace and negotiation to be the only ways to reach a two-state solution, based on the 1967 borders, and to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

He reiterated that the Palestinian bid for statehood at the UN was not meant to isolate Israel or to delegitimize it but as a way to maintain the two-state solution.

A statement released by Kadima indicated Livni updated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres, and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on the details of the meeting.

Earlier Wednesday, referring to ongoing reconciliation talks with Fatah, Hamas strongman Mahmoud Zahar accused Abbas of not being genuine in attempts to form a unity government, citing the influence of Israeli and American pressure.

Zahar said Abbas "is not interested in achieving" a deal with Hamas, adding: "Reconciliation will not be achieved at all," Zahar told the London-based daily Asharq al-Awsat.

Read this article in Hebrew: לבני לעבאס: אל תאפשר לחמאס להשליט סדר יום, הקיפאון משרת את הקיצונים