Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (HaTnua) defended her decision to meet Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas after
peace talks collapsed Monday, in a move that drew sharp criticism from ministers.
"I would like to remind everyone that the conflict isn't over," Livni told HaTnua members during a faction meeting, according to AFP. "We're still here and the Palestinians are still here. Our interest is to resolve the conflict, and ignoring reality is not an option."
Livni came under fire for holding talks in London with Abbas on Thursday, with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's office and ministers distancing themselves from the meeting, insisting it was private and did not signal official intention to resume talks.
Israel pulled out of the talks in mid-April, saying it would not negotiate terrorists. The move came shortly after PA's Fatah leadership signed a unity pact with Hamas, which is committed to destruction of the Jewish state and has threatened Israelis and Jews with genocide.
"Ignoring the other side, not listening or talking, is irresponsible," Livni insisted. "A resolution is best achieved through direct negotiations, but we can't ignore the agreement between Hamas and Fatah."
"To all those politicians up in arms, I want to be clear: we'll continue doing what we believe in, and that's what I did last week by meeting [Abbas]," Livni said.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu distanced himself from the meeting between Livni and Abbas, which was held on Thursday.
Sources in the prime minister's office said that Netanyahu made it clear to Livni that she would be representing only herself, and not the Israeli government.
The prime minister reiterated that the position of the government, as passed unanimously by the security cabinet, is not to negotiate with a "Palestinian government" that includes Hamas, which he restated is "a terrorist organization that declares its intentions to destroy the state of Israel."