There will be neither diplomatic progress nor an accord with the Palestinians as long as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas remains in power, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said Tuesday.
Liberman, in a meeting with visiting Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr, slammed the PA for a letter it sent to the EU on July 24, urging it to reconsider its relations with Israel.
The letter, coinciding with the annual EU-Israel Association Council meeting, urged the EU not to grant Israel “any upgrade whether it be official or practical,” and not to give the country any preferential treatment, nor allow further integration into the EU.
Liberman termed the letter “slanderous,” and said it accused Israel of theft and exploitation of natural resources, closing off the Gaza Strip, destroying projects in Israeli-controlled Area C of the West Bank and settler violence.
The letter also accused Israel of changing the demographic situation in Jerusalem, prolonged use of administrative detention, and the practice of “extrajudicial killings and torture.”
The style and sprit of the letter, Liberman said, according to a statement his office issued, was “better suited to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Der Sturmer.”
Liberman complained that the letter came even though Israel in recent months “has gone to considerable lengths to improve the relationship with the Palestinians,” and took a number of steps aimed at improving the overall atmosphere.
Among those steps, he said, was a July 14 decision to provide work permits to 5,000 additional Palestinian workers and to advance to the PA – so it could pay salaries before Ramadan – NIS 180 million against future tax transfers.
Liberman also noted an agreement signed between the Israel Electric Company and the Palestinian Energy Authority for the building of four electric power substations in the West Bank; that Jerusalem had authorized infrastructure industrial and infrastructure projects in Area C; and that it had also removed additional roadblocks in the West Bank.
Liberman’s comments to the Australian foreign minister came against the background of a renewed threat from the PA to ask the UN General Assembly in September for observer status as a non-member state.
Israel, according to diplomatic sources, is interested in combating the Palestinian narrative that they are going to the UN because nothing is moving in negotiations, by countering that nothing is moving because the Palestinians are unwilling to enter talks.
“The whole Palestinian position is that they are going to the UN because things are going nowhere.
We want to make clear that the reason the peace process has stalled is because the Palestinians have refused to engage,” one government official said.
Israel’s hope, he added, was that countries important to the Palestinians would send them a message that this move would be counterproductive, and that they would oppose it.