Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Sunday evening that Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is “irrelevant” because of Hamas’ victory in last month’s elections and the militant group’s subsequent takeover of the Palestinian parliament and Cabinet. Livni said the Hamas government must decide about Israel’s demands for recognition and renunciation of terror, and Abbas “in this regard is not relevant.”
In the past, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon used the term “irrelevant” to describe and push to isolate Abbas’ predecessor, Yasser Arafat. “Abu Mazen [Abbas] cannot serve as a fig leaf to a terrorist authority. Abu Mazen cannot be the pretty face of the ugly terror hiding behind him,” Livni told Israel Radio. Livni’s statement contradicts the stance put forth by the United States, the international community and the Labor Party, that considers Abbas and other moderate PA officials to be partners that should be backed so as to prevent the further rise of extremists in the Palestinian regime in the wake of Hamas’ victory in the parliamentary elections. U.S. pledges continued humanitarian aid During a meeting with Abbas on Saturday, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs C. David Welch promised the PA Chairman that the U.S. will not cut off humanitarian aid to the Palestinians, even after a Hamas government takes over. During the first high-level meeting between the two sides since the Hamas election victory last month, Welch assured Abbas that the U.S. supports the chairman and his policies, and praised his speech during the opening Palestinian parliament session earlier this month, Israel Radio reported. “The United States has long been a supporter of the Palestinian people, through a substantial contribution of our foreign assistance funds… we continue to be devoted to the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people and it shall remain so,” Welch said. “It is our belief that it is important for the people in the Palestinian territories … to have a good life in safety and security with economic well-being,” Welch added.