Lieberman: Hamas waiting for chance to take over West Bank

Foreign minister says Hamas more powerful than Fatah, waiting for it to extract maximum from int'l community, will then seize power.

By REBECCA ANNA STOIL
March 14, 2011 12:36
2 minute read.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)

Hamas has the ability to take control of the West Bank and is simply waiting for the right opportunity to arise, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Monday.

Lieberman’s briefing of the powerful committee touched on issues of geopolitics, especially regarding energy supplies, and carried with it a stern message regarding Palestinian aspirations to have the United Nations recognize their statehood in September.

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“In Judea and Samaria – against the assessments of both the Shin Bet and the IDF – Hamas is growing stronger,” Lieberman warned the committee. “Hamas’s ability to take control of Judea and Samaria exists despite claims [by Israeli security services] that they are able to ‘keep the weeds freshly cut.’ From Hamas’s perspective, it is just a question of when to decide. They are waiting for an opportunity to act, just as they did in the violent takeover of the Gaza Strip.”

The Foreign Minister did, however, note that he did not believe that the takeover would occur in the coming year.

“If we go tomorrow to the 1967 borders, including dividing Jerusalem, within a half-year, Hamas will take control of Judea and Samaria. Every think-tank in the West can reach this conclusion if it looks deeply at the situation.”

In the immediate future, he said, Israel will have to face the Palestinian Authority, which is “acting with full effort to achieve recognition in the United Nations in September.



“Unilateral recognition of the Palestinian statehood will be in contradiction with every agreement ever signed between Israel and the Palestinians,” Lieberman complained. “We have a number of ‘levers’ that we can use against the Palestinian Authority in the event that there is a unilateral declaration. The problem is in the ability to make the decision to utilize those levers,” he added, in what some believed to be a poke directed at Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Lieberman told MKs that the Palestinians prefer the option of indirect negotiations through the international community and are trying to avoid entering direct talks with Israel. He was not optimistic regarding the international community’s ability to work as a fair broker between the two sides.

“The West does not succeed in solving conflicts in the world. If they can solve the problem in Kashmir, then we will allow them to help us with the Israeli-Palestinian problem,” he said. “Thus far, the international community has not upheld any agreement that it signed with Israel – for example, Resolution 1701 regarding south Lebanon is not being carried out.”

“Unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state, from Israel’s perspective, is a red line,” Lieberman warned. “The Western world is increasingly courting the Arab world. It is not for nothing that Obama’s first visit was Egypt.

“The world is no longer bipolar, and as a result, the only considerations are economic,” he explained. “In this state, it is hard for Israel, which does not have a great economic influence, especially regarding energy sources, in comparison to Arab states.”


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