Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas would do Israel a favor by
quitting because he has halted the peace process, Foreign Minister Avigdor
Lieberman told journalists in Jerusalem on Thursday.
'Construction freeze would be ethnic cleansing'
Erekat tells Quartet Israel is impeding peace
“If there is a true
stumbling block to peace, it is Abu Mazen,” said Lieberman in an off-camera
briefing with reporters in the Foreign Ministry building.
talks about quitting, it’s not a threat, it’s a blessing,” Lieberman said. “I
can only hope that he leaves soon. Anyone who replaces him will be better than
He made his statement prior to Wednesday’s meeting in Jerusalem
of mid-level Quartet envoys from the United States, the European Union, the
United Nations and Russia to jump-start a new peace process scheduled to end in
The envoys will meet separately with Palestinian
negotiator Saeb Erekat, and then with Israeli envoy Yitzhak
Palestinians refuse to talk directly with Israel until it halts
West Bank settlement construction and Jewish building in east Jerusalem. Israel
has refused to cede to that demand and has called for talks without
On Monday, peace seemed far away as Israelis and
Palestinians traded barbs.
The PA said that Lieberman’s comments about
Abbas were “barbaric.”
Abbas adviser Nimer Hammad said that Lieberman was
“speaking with a jungle mentality” and was a “thug.”
expressed “regret” that Israelis had voted for someone like
“The real obstacle to peace is not President Abbas or the
Palestinian policy, but Israeli policies and Lieberman’s arrogant statements,”
Abbas’s Fatah faction also denounced Lieberman’s statements
and warned that any harm caused to the PA president would “turn the region
Fatah described the statements as “state terrorism
practiced by the occupation government.”
Fatah spokesman Ahmed Assaf
claimed that Lieberman’s statements were aimed at paving the road for targeting
But Lieberman said that it was Abbas who was the problem. He has
made “racist” statements, said Lieberman, stating that he won’t allow a single
Jew to live in the newly-created Palestinian state.
There are many
Western-trained Palestinians who could replace him and be a serious and sincere
partner, Lieberman said.
He continued by saying that all Abbas cares
about is his own private agenda of making it into the history books as someone
who created a Palestinian state and unified Fatah and Hamas.
claimed that Abbas is using the settlements as an excuse to not make peace with
Israel and with the Netanyahu government, adding further that it is the only
government that can bring about a two-state solution.
signed with Egypt and Jordan, and Palestinians have negotiated with past Israeli
governments, while settlement construction continued, said Lieberman.
added that he would not agree to any construction freeze – neither in West Bank
settlements or east Jerusalem.
There is an asymmetry to people’s
perceptions on this matter, Lieberman said.
Imagine if Israel prohibited
its Arab citizens from buying or renting property in the western part of the
city, he said.
“It would immediately be accused of apartheid and racism,”
But, he added, the international community considers a request
to bar Jews from building in the eastern part of Jerusalem as
“When we try to explain that Gilo [a Jewish east Jerusalem
neighborhood] is only seven minutes from the Prime Minister’s Office, no one
believes it,” he said.
“The fundamental question is not about the
settlements. It is what happens when the Palestinians get independence,” he
said. “Who will assure Israel that Kassam rockets won’t be launched from
Kalkilya against Ra’anana and Kfar Saba and Herzliya. That is the central
question for which I have not received any reassuring answers and I don’t think
I will,” Lieberman said.
“If I see that it is possible to have an
agreement, not one of ‘Peace Now’ but one that assures peace for generations, I
am willing to pursue it. But right now I only see the opposite. I have no doubt
that if the Palestinians will be given political and security responsibility
over the West Bank, within a year you will see rockets launched from Judea and
Lieberman said he fully supported a two-state solution, and
that this was the government’s position as well.
If there were a serious
Palestinian partner, Lieberman said, then an agreement for a two-state solution
possibly would have already been reached.
He warned that if the
Palestinians succeed in their statehood bid at the United Nations he would
support cutting off contact.
Lieberman said he expected Netanyahu’s
government to make it to the end of its term in October 2013.
know of anyone who is looking to leave the government,” Lieberman said.