Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced his lack of confidence in Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as a peace partner on Thursday. Abbas met with Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal in Cairo on Thursday as part of a reconciliation effort between Abbas' Fatah and Hamas, mediated by Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi.
"Abbas embraces the head of a terrorist organization that declared just one month ago that Israel needs to be wiped off the map," Netanyahu said. "That is not how someone with their eyes toward peace behaves."
Hatnuah head Tzipi Livni responded by attacking Netanyahu.
"Instead of reprimanding Abbas and convincing the Israeli public yet another time, on the eve of elections, that there is no hope for peace, Israel must demand, justly, that the inter-Palestinian settlement include a recognition of Israel and an end to violence and terror," she said.
Both Livni and Netanyahu's statements followed President Shimon Peres' interview with The New York Times Magazine, published on Wednesday.
In the interview, Peres warned of the diplomatic standstill in negotiations with the Palestinians. Peres said that Netanyahu "may do nothing, but that doesn’t mean that things won’t be done. This idea, that history is a horse that can be held by the tail, is a foolish idea. After all, the fire can be lit in an instant: another word, another shot, and in the end everyone will lose control. If there is no diplomatic decision, the Palestinians will go back to terror. Knives, mines, suicide attacks. The silence that Israel has been enjoying over the last few years will not continue, because even if the local inhabitants do not want to resume the violence, they will be under the pressure of the Arab world."
Peres opposed the notion that the Palestinian Authority is not a viable partner.
"I do not accept the assertion that Mahmoud Abbas is not a good negotiating partner," he said. "In my mind, he is an excellent partner. Our military people describe to me the extent to which the Palestinian forces are cooperating with us to combat terror."
"Mahmoud Abbas and I met for long talks, with Netanyahu’s knowledge, and even reached more than a few agreements. To my regret, in the end there was always some rupture, and I do not want to go into the reasons for that now. This is not a simple negotiation — but I thought the conditions exist to set out on the path."