Middle East

Israeli premier distances self from Abbas meeting

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the press ahead of a meeting with U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel at his office on Friday, May 16, 2014 in occupied Jerusalem. (AP Photo/Mandel Ngan, Pool)

JERUSALEM: Israel's prime minister is distancing himself from a closed-door meeting that took place last week between Israel's chief peace negotiator and the Palestinian president.

An Israeli official said Sunday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told negotiator Tzipi Livni she could only represent herself in the meeting, not the Israeli government. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was unauthorized to comment publicly on the matter.

Hawkish Israeli lawmakers criticized Livni's meeting Sunday.

Israel suspended U.S.-sponsored peace talks with the Palestinians last month after the Palestinian president reached a unity deal with the Islamic militant group Hamas.

A Palestinian official said President Mahmoud Abbas met with Livni in London Thursday, but would not disclose the content of the meeting. A spokeswoman for Livni could not be immediately reached.





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