Palestinian Authority welcomes Livni election

Israel Materials 18 September 2008 15:06 (UTC +04:00)

The West Bank administration of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed Thursday the election of Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni as the new leader of Israel's ruling party, reported dpa.

"Livni was deeply involved in the peace process so we think she will continue peace-seeking with us," senior Abbas aide Saeb Erekat told reporters in Ramallah.

Erekat, a member of the Palestinian negotiating team, said he welcomed "the Israeli people's choice."

Livni, although seen as tough, is Israel's chief negotiator and a staunch advocate of a two-state solution to the Middle East conflict, while her main rival, Shaul Mofaz, is a comparative hawk within the centrist Kadima party of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who wants to postpone negotiations on a final peace deal.

The rival Hamas administration ruling Gaza had earlier rejected both Livni and Mofaz, with Ismail Haniya, the de-facto prime minister of the radical Islamic movement saying they both "deny Palestinians' rights.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum added Livni's election "means the continuation of Israel's aggressive policies against the Palestinian people."

"The competition in the internal Israeli scene is one between extremists and racists," he said sarcastically, adding Palestinians should respond to the election by "sticking to the choice of resistance."

The Islamic Jihad, a smaller, Iranian-backed Palestinian radical faction, called on Abbas' administration to stop "all forms of talks and negotiations with the Israeli enemy."

"Regardless who stands at the head of the Zionist entity's government, nothing will change on the ground," a statement issued by the movement said. "Our struggle against the Zionists is open until they leave our land."