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The New Arab

Israel opposition leader urges Abbas to restart talks with US

Livni is a firm critic of Gaza-based Hamas [Getty]

Date of publication: 26 September, 2018

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Israel's opposition leader Tzipi Livni has urged Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to restart negotiations with the US, following a freeze in ties.

Israel's opposition leader has urged Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to re-start negotiations with the US, following a freeze in relations between Washington and Ramallah.

Tzipi Livni, from the Zionist Union, met with Abbas in New York during a UN General Assembly meeting in the city on Tuesday.

"You need to get back to a conversation with the United States on the basis of the principle of the two nation-states - a demilitarised Palestinian state alongside Israel," she told Abbas, according to Haaretz.

"And you should do so not because of the sanctions and funding cuts, but despite of them, even if you have concerns and anger and even if you do not agree to all the conditions."

Relations between the Palestine Authority and US have hit a new low after Donald Trump became president in January 2017.

He has angered Palestinians by cutting US aid, moving the embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and piling pressure on Ramallah to pursue a still unrevealed peace deal, which is broadly accepted will be hugely favourable to Israel.

A public spat between American and Palestinian leaders has led Ramallah to freeze talks with the US, while the Trump administration has shuttered the Palestine Liberation Organisation's diplomatic office in Washington.

Livni urged Abbas to pursue new talks with Palestine to avoid a "deterioration" of the security situation in the West Bank and Gaza.

During the talk, she singled out Gaza-based Hamas - a political rival of the Palestinian president - for particular criticism.

"Isolation and unilateral steps against Israel will be a tragedy. They could lead to further deterioration, loss of control and the end of the two-state solution. Instead of Hamastan [derogatory phrase for Hamas-run Gaza], the PA must mobilise for a solution in Gaza and instead of attacking the United States, get back to a dialogue with it."

Livni also told Abbas to end PA payments to the families of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and those killed by Israeli troops.

She also told the Palestinian leader to halt PA action against Israel in the International Criminal Court and to ultimately accept Trump's version of a peace plan, despite what it might entail for Palestinians.

"In the Middle East we have to choose among bad options," she ended. "Abu Mazen is the least bad option, despite the criticism I have against him. I plan on continuing to contribute my part to encouraging a path that will contribute to a calming in the region."

Livni has been accused of war crimes due to her role as foreign minister during the 2008-9 Israeli war on Hamas-run Gaza.

The war between the two sides led to the deaths of at least 1,417 Palestinians, the vast majority civilians.

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