Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has adopted Leon Trotsky’s “no war, no peace” strategy of wearing one’s opponent down without committing to anything, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said on Tuesday.
Liberman, speaking at an Independence Day reception for the diplomatic corps at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, said Abbas learned this approach while studying in Moscow in the 1970s.
“This is exactly what he is doing,” he said.
The foreign minister, saying he wanted to tear off Abbas’s mask and “say clearly that he consistently rejects peace,” asserted that the diplomatic events on the Israeli-Palestinian track over the past few weeks have shown that “there is absolutely no desire on the part of the Palestinians to reach an agreement with Israel.”
Liberman said the Palestinian decision last month to apply for acceptance to 15 treaties and conventions, coupled with the Fatah-Hamas unity agreement, repeats a “long standing and familiar pattern of behavior by Abbas and the Palestinians. Whenever there is progress and a step forward in negotiations, the Palestinians take two steps back.”
They were his toughest public comments about Abbas since 2012, when he called the Palestinian leader a “liar, coward and wimp.”
Abbas’s application to join the international treaties and conventions came just two hours before “everything was ready for the signing of a document that would lead to the continuation of negotiations between us and the Palestinians,” Liberman said.
Settlements in Judea and Samaria are not the “real problem,” he said. The real problem is the “reluctance of the Palestinians time after time to pursue peace.” Then, in a dig at Europe, he added, “Time after time there are those who do not want to admit this.”
Even after Abbas signed an agreement with Hamas, “an organization that openly seeks the destruction of the very state where we are celebrating independence, some, especially in Europe, continue to blame Israel for the deadlock in negotiations,” the foreign minister said.
While rejecting peace, Abbas “enjoys his status as the leader of a national liberation movement and travels around the world, spending more time in London, New York and Paris than in Tulkarm and Jenin,” Liberman said.
Israel expects the international community to stand by its commitments and demand that Hamas renounce violence, recognize Israel and accept previously singed agreements before engaging with it, he said.
Monday’s meeting in Qatar between Abbas and Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal “demonstrate[s] with certainty that Hamas is on its way to controlling the whole Palestinian Authority,” Liberman said. He predicted that Hamas would win Palestinian elections wherever they are held, and as a result Abbas – who “brought Hamas to power in Gaza” – will also bring them to power in the West Bank.
However, Liberman said, we are determined to prevent “Judea and Samaria from becoming the new Gaza.”
Liberman also said that there could be no compromise on two other issues: the need for the Palestinians to recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, and the abandonment of the “so-called Palestinian right of return.”
While Abbas is demanding a “100% homogeneous” Palestinian state – a Palestinian state that will be “judenrein, without a single Jew” – he seeks a binational state in Israel, the foreign minister said.
“As many of the Arabs living in Israel identify as Palestinian, it is his intention to create a link between a future Palestinian state and the Palestinians living in Israel in order to undermine it in the future at any time of his choosing,” Liberman said.
Regarding a Palestinian “right of return,” Liberman said Israel “will not agree to even the return of one person to Israel. Those who talk about a ‘right of return,’ knowingly or not, are talking about the destruction of the State of Israel de facto. If we allow one refugee to come to Israel, a million will follow after him.”
Israel seeks peace, Liberman assured the gathered diplomats.
“Israel wants an agreement, but we will not be fools.”
President Shimon Peres, meanwhile, struck a more upbeat and optimistic chord in his remarks to the diplomatic corps. While there is an interruption in the negotiations, it does not mean that the negotiations will stop, he said. It just means that a solution has to be found.
Peres expressed more apprehension about the effects of terrorism on the world. He called on all the nations to come together to fight terrorism, which he said can strike anywhere at any time.
He said he was particularly concerned about the terrorism coming from the Gaza Strip. From time to time, the United Nations secretary-general calls on Israel to permit building supplies to enter Gaza, but these supplies are not used for regular construction purposes, but rather to build tunnels from which terrorists can attack Israel, he said.
Peres said Israel was not against Hamas-Fatah unity, as long as the international community’s three conditions for engagement with Gaza were met.
He suggested that countries that finance Gaza stop sending money, and transfer technology instead.
“Money can corrupt,” he said. “Technology can bring growth.”