Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman penned a letter to the Mideast Quartet earlier this week, calling on its members – the US, the EU, the UN, and Russia, to encourage new elections in the Palestinian Authority in order to remove current President Mahmoud Abbas, whom he described as “encouraging a culture of hatred.”
The letter, dated August 20, was addressed to EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton, and was obtained by Haaretz, in an apparent attempt by Ashton to cause embarrassment for and dissension within the Israeli government.
Written as a status report of Israel’s relationship with the PA, Liberman starts the letter by saying that Israel has “undertaken several significant gestures towards the Palestinians” – including an NIS 180 million advance of tax remittances – but that in response “we encountered repeated Palestinian patterns of refusal and consistent attempts to turn to pointless activity, counterproductive to any constructive efforts.”
Liberman went on to accuse Abbas of “damaging behavior towards Israel, including extreme cases of encouraging a culture of hatred, praising terrorists, encouraging sanctions and boycotts, and calling into question the legitimacy of the existence of the state.”
“The Palestinian Authority is a despotic government riddled with corruption,” he continued. “Due to Abbas’ weak standing, and his policy of not renewing the negotiations…the time has come to consider a creative solution, to think ‘outside the box,’ in order to strengthen the Palestinian leadership.”
He ends the letter by calling for general elections in the PA “ so that a new, legitimate, hopefully realistic Palestinian leadership should be elected.”
In response, spokesmen for Abbas on Wednesday condemned the letter as “incitement” that engenders an “atmosphere of violence and instability,” and called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to refute Liberman.
Indeed, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement later in the day distancing the government from Liberman’s remarks, saying that “The Foreign Minister’s letter does not represent the position of the prime minister or that of the government.”
“The prime minister agrees that Abu Mazen Abbas creates difficulties in negotiations,” the statement continued, but “Israel does not intervene in internal politics in other places.”
In related news, Israeli daily Israel Hayom reported that Abbas made statements on Tuesday denying the Jewish people’s connection to Jerusalem.
In a statement marking the 43rd anniversary of an arson attack on the Al-Aqsa mosque, Abbas said that “the Israeli occupation authorities…ultimate goal is to rob Muslims and Christians of their holy shrines, destroy Al-Aqsa mosque and build the alleged Jewish Temple.”
According to Palestinian News Network, Abbas “reiterated in his statement that there will be no peace, no security and no stability unless the occupation, settlers and settlements are gone from Jerusalem. He stressed that the city is at the core of Palestinian identity and remain the eternal capital of the Palestinian state.”