Palestinian Authority chief negotiator Saeb Erekat responded to reports that Israel was mulling the ouster of PA President Mahmoud Abbas as a response to the Palestinian UN statehood bid on Wednesday, saying Jerusalem's strategy was to "keep the occupation, cost-free."
Erekat's comments came after a Foreign Ministry policy paper leaked to the Israeli media listed cancelling the Oslo Agreements and ousting Abbas as a possible response to the PA's bid to become a non-member UN state. The position paper was reported to represent the opinion of Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman. Liberman has repeatedly called for Abbas's ouster as PA president.
Erekat stated that the Oslo process was supposed to have led to an Israeli-Palestinian agreement by 1999, and Israel's threats to cancel the accords were empty, as they had abandoned Oslo years ago. "There strategy is to keep the occupation, cost-free. That is alien to Oslo. Our UN bid aims to make sure that Oslo and the peace process continues," he said in an interview with Army Radio.
The PA official slammed the foreign minister personally, saying that even if Mother Theresa or Thomas Jefferson headed the Palestinian Authority, Liberman would claim that there was no partner for peace, and that they should be killed.
The Foreign Ministry position paper included the ouster of Abbas as one possible tactic for dealing with the PA's bid to gain the status of a non-member state at the UN, Channel 2 reported on Wednesday.
Abbas plans to push ahead with the Palestinian unilateral bid to ask the UN General Assembly to upgrade their status to that of a non-member state on November 29.
According to the Channel 2 report, the Foreign Ministry recommended that Israel use information on Abbas obtained from Palestinian opposition websites of corruption allegations in order to smear his name and delegitimize him.
This was one of several recommendations the position paper presented. If the Palestinians abandon their UN bid, the position paper recommends that Israel reach an agreement with the PA to recognize it as a state in temporary borders during a transitional period, according to Channel 2.
Speaking to students at the Ariel University Center on Wednesday, Liberman failed to address the position paper, but he did take the occasion to criticize Abbas.
Liberman asserted that Abbas has lost control of the Palestinian street, as the Palestinians are split between Gaza in Hamas and Fatah in the West Bank.
The foreign minister also slammed the Palestinian UN bid for non-member state status, saying it crosses a red line and is "not a diplomatic alternative to [peace] talks."
He accused Abbas of trying to save himself, not his people, with the Palestinian UN statehood bid.Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.