Livni Declares 'I Won't Step Down'
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni maintained a defiant tone on Thursday following the security cabinet decision to suspend peace talks with the Palestinian Authority (PA), declaring that she will not step down from the government.
Livni, who is Israel's chief negotiator in the talks, told Channel 2 that "the decision to suspend the talks is the right decision, the combination of the PA and Hamas is bad." The two signed a unity deal on Wednesday, leading to the suspension.
The minister stressed that Israel is only "suspending" that talks, saying "the door has not been shut today," and that the financial sanctions on the PA were "measured" and "would not collapse the PA."
"It could be that this is a political move by (PA Chairman) Mahmoud Abbas, but Hamas is a terror organization that doesn't recognize our existence," stated Livni.
It is worth pointing out that Abbas himself has repeatedly refused to recognize Israel as the Jewish state, leading peace talks to a dead-end even before he torpedoed them by breaching talk conditions and applying to 15 international conventions at the start of the month.
When asked if Abbas is still a "peace partner" in her estimation, Livni responded that Abbas "made bad decisions in the peace process at sensitive time points; if he's a partner we'll need to see more."
Livni added "I don't like to use the expression partner, he's the representative of the other side."
'None of us thinks we need to leave the government'
Regarding her Hatnua party's joining of the coalition government last year, Livni commented "exactly what I wanted happened in the government. The process was stipulated by the opening of the peace talks after five years of a freeze, the contents were discussed in a manner that could lead to an agreement."
"The fact that Abbas chose a different path forces me to think about the agreement," acknowledged Livni.
However, Livni emphasized that her fellow Hatnua members agree with her not to leave the government until the end of the peace talks, which are set to expire on an April 29 deadline.
Livni declared that her fellow Hatnua MKs "are synchronized, none of them thinks we need to leave the government. They see how I represent our positions, and even the decision today in the cabinet is measured and doesn't close the door."
Meanwhile, Livni's PA counterpart Saeb Erekat told AFP on Thursday in response to the talk suspension that "the Palestinian leadership will look into all options to respond to Israeli government decisions against the PA."