Using especially harsh language against Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Tuesday characterized as “junk” Abbas’s charges earlier this week that Israel was undermining the Islamic structures on the Temple Mount.
Netanyahu, in a meeting with visiting Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store, said that the comments were “a complete fabrication,” “libelous,” “potentially incendiary” and something that could “start a religious war.”
The international community’s message to Abbas, Netanyahu told Store, should be to “cut it out.”
Abbas, speaking Sunday at the International Conference for the Defense of Jerusalem in Doha, questioned the Jewish connection to Jerusalem while saying that Israel was “using the ugliest and most dangerous means to implement plans to erase and remove the Arab-Islamic and Christian character of east Jerusalem.” He also charged that Israel intended to destroy the Aksa Mosque.
Store was one of two foreign ministers in the capital on Tuesday, the other being Grigol Vashadze of Georgia. Israeli diplomatic officials said Vashadze’s visit was significant because it signaled a normalization of ties following the April arrest and sentencing in Georgia of two Israeli businessmen – Roni Fuchs and Ze’ev Frenkel – for allegedly bribing the country’s deputy finance minister.
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili pardoned the two in November, following seven months of strained ties between the two countries.
As soon as Saakashvili issued the pardons, and even before they landed in Tel Aviv, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman invited Vashadze for a visit – in a sign that ties would quickly return to normal.
This is the third high-level visit from Georgia in a month, following a visit last week by the Georgian Patriarchate, and in January by the country’s economics minister.
Referring to the failed terrorist attack on an Israeli diplomatic vehicle in Tbilisi earlier this month, Vashadze said that his country would do everything in its power to provide security for the embassy and Israeli diplomats in Georgia.