(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s plan to open a direct dialogue with Palestinian village leaders will ultimately come to naught, PLO Executive Committee member Ahmad Majdalani said on Sunday.
“Liberman’s plan is a renewed attempt to revive the old Village Leagues plan and bypass the Palestinian leadership, replacing it with new partners from Palestinian society. However, this plan will fail, just as it did previously,” Majdalani, who also is an adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, told The Jerusalem Post.
In the late 1970s, Israel canceled local elections in the West Bank and created Village Leagues to undermine Palestinian nationalists running for municipal council seats. The leagues collapsed in the early 1980s.
The top PLO official said that Liberman ought to implement agreements and negotiate with the Palestinians.
“Rather than looking for ways to weaken the Palestinian leadership, we advise Liberman to implement signed agreements and return, if possible, to the negotiating table to end the Israeli occupation,” he said.
Majdalani also made clear that anyone who cooperates with Liberman will be considered a criminal.
“The very few Palestinians who work with Liberman will be outside of the national camp and considered violators of the law,” he said.
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Liberman said he has no interest in interfering in internal Palestinian affairs, but rather wants “to create a dialogue with anyone who wants to talk with [Israel].”
Separately, Majdalani condemned Liberman’s “carrot and stick” plan, which aims to punish villages in the West Bank whose residents attack Israelis, and provide economic benefits to villages whose residents do not.
“We reject the carrot and stick plan, which treats Palestinians like animals,” he said.
Majdalani added that the defense minister is underestimating the intelligence of the Palestinians.
“I think Liberman has forgotten that the Palestinian people are civilized and cultured and cannot be described in such racist terms.”
When he introduced the plan last week, Liberman said: “Anyone who is prepared for coexistence will prosper, while those who opt for terrorism will lose.”
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