Netanyahu distances himself from Abbas-Livni meeting

Ben Sales

TEL AVIV (JTA) — An official in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said Justice Minister Tzipi Livni did not officially represent Israel in a recent meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Livni and Abbas met Thursday in London, where they had both arrived for separate previously scheduled meetings. Both also met separately with Secretary of State John Kerry while there, according to Haaretz.

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The official in Netanyahu’s office told Haaretz that though Netanyahu knew of the meeting in advance, he told Livni that she would be “representing only herself and not the Israeli government.”

Israel suspended negotiations with the Palestinian Authority last month after Abbas’ Fatah party signed a reconciliation agreement with Hamas, the terrorist organization that governs Gaza. The official said that at her meeting with Abbas, Livni explained Israel’s aversion to the deal and sought to understand Abbas’ intentions following the suspension of talks.

“There is a cabinet decision on freezing negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, and Livni supported this decision,” Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman told Israel’s Channel 2, which first reported the meeting. “I suppose she was in London and privately met whoever she wanted to meet. I am sure it’s not related to negotiations. Even if they played checkers, that’s their right.”

The pro-settler Jewish Home party called on Livni to resign following the meeting, according to the Times of Israel.

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