Netanyahu Criticizes Abbas

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu condemns Abbas for meeting with Mashaal. Livni condemns Netanyahu for condemning Abbas.

Elad Benari ,

PA heads Haniyeh and Abbas
PA heads Haniyeh and Abbas
Flash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu condemned on Thursday the meeting between Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and the head of Hamas's political bureau, Khaled Mashaal, in Cairo.

Hatnua chairwoman Tzipi Livni later condemned Netanyahu for condemning Abbas.

Netanyahu said that the meeting is proof that the PA leader does not want a peace agreement with Israel.

"Abu Mazen gives a hug to the head of the terrorist organization who announced only a month ago that Israel should be wiped off the map," Netanyahu said in a statement, referring to comments made by Mashaal during a recent visit to Gaza.

"A leader who desires peace does not behave this way," Netanyahu said of Abbas.

Livni later chose to condemn Netanyahu's statement, saying that "instead of reprimanding Abbas in order to convince the Israeli public prior to the elections that there is no hope for peace, Israel should demand and rightly so that any agreement between Abbas and Mashaal will recognize Israel and cease violence and terrorism."

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi hosted Abbas and Mashaal in Cairo on Wednesday in order to restart the reconciliation talks between Hamas and Abbas's Fatah faction and implement the agreement reached by the sides in 2011. The agreement stated that within a year there will be general and presidential elections in the PA.

Morsi's spokesman, Dr. Yasser Ali, said that Fatah and Hamas had agreed to immediately begin implementing the reconciliation agreement under Egyptian supervision. Other Egyptian sources said that the meeting was positive and that Abbas and Mashaal reached an agreement on most of the issues.

The meeting between Abbas and Mashaal was the first one hosted by the Egyptian president since he was elected in June of last year.

The sides seems to have been getting closer since Israel Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza. During the counterterrorism operation, the two factions announced they have decided to end infighting. The Palestinian Authority later announced it will release Hamas-affiliated detainees as a goodwill gesture to boost reconciliation efforts.

Last week, for the first time since its violent takeover of Gaza, Hamas allowed the Gaza branch of Fatah party to mark its anniversary in the region.