Kadima heads split on how to treat Abbas
By Aluf Benn Haaretz 27 February 2006
A public disagreement has arisen among Kadima's leaders regarding how to
deal with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told Israel Radio yesterday that Abbas is
"irrelevant." But Shimon Peres, who is number two on the party's Knesset
slate, said yesterday at a function in Miami that "Israel must continue to
talk with Abu Mazen [Abbas], since he is responsible for contacts with
Israel and for the Palestinians' foreign policy."
Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz are thus
far siding with Livni, telling American envoy David Welch yesterday that
Jerusalem refuses to see Abbas as the "good guy" and Hamas as the "bad
guys." All three ministers told Welch that the PA is a single entity, and
that Abbas is not an independent actor at a time when Hamas has a
parliamentary majority, will be forming the government and is the party of
Olmert told Welch that Israel cannot conduct a dual policy - one toward
Abbas and one toward the rest of the PA.
Livni told the American envoy that "Abu Mazen cannot be a fig leaf for a
terrorist entity. When the PA is headed by a terror organization, it becomes
a terrorist entity. No distinction can be made between the PA and Abu Mazen,
on one hand, and Hamas on the other." Livni added that the international
community must deliver a strong message to Hamas.
Mofaz warned of the danger of Hamas cozying up to Iran and Hezbollah, "which
would help bring the axis of evil here."
"We are focusing our efforts on isolating Hamas for as long as it refuses to
accept the conditions set by Israel and the international community: to
reject terror, recognize Israel, honor all agreements and abrogate its
convention [calling for Israel's destruction]," Mofaz continued, adding that
the Palestinian government will "pay the price" if terror against Israel
continues after the new government is formed.
Welch responded that the U.S. will not give money to an entity headed by a
terror organization, but also said that the Palestinian population should
not be made to suffer. He said that money for humanitarian purposes would
continue to be channeled to the Palestinian people.
In response to reports of a disagreement between Welch and Israeli
officials, the American Embassy in Tel Aviv released a statement saying that
Welch had a "productive visit" during which he had "excellent exchanges of
ideas" with the Israelis, and that the two governments agree on the way