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(photo credit: AP [file])
In unusually harsh remarks, Brig.-Gen. (res.) Bezalel Treiber - a senior Defense Ministry official and head of the Defense Ministry Crossings Directorate - lashed out at the Palestinian Authority on Friday, calling PA officials "liars and people with the wrong set of priorities."
Following the closure of the Karni crossing last week, the Defense Ministry announced plans over the weekend to open the Kerem Shalom crossing at the southern tip of Gaza on Monday to humanitarian and commercial goods. Karni was shut down last week after the IDF suspected Palestinians were digging terror tunnels underneath the crossing.
The Palestinians, however, rejected the Kerem Shalom offer, Treiber told The Jerusalem Post, and told him that Karni was the only crossing they were willing to use. As to the terror warnings, Treiber said the PA officials had dismissed them as not being genuine.
"The PA doesn't want Kerem Shalom," he said. "They want Karni to transfer goods and they tried to tell us that we don't have a security problem there."
On Friday, Palestinian Authority officials - associates of former PA minister Muhammad Dahlan - skipped a meeting they had scheduled with Treiber to coordinate Kerem Shalom's opening.
"Their lack of readiness to meet with me at Kerem Shalom to prepare the crossing for the transfer of humanitarian goods and agricultural goods shows what their real set of priorities is," Treiber said, adding that the reason the PA officials skipped the meeting was that they "want to make Israel look bad whenever the occasion presents itself."
The IDF and the Palestinians bulldozed the area surrounding the Karni Crossing last week and though terror tunnels were not found, the army decided to keep the crossing closed.
As a result, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and Defense Ministry Dir.-Gen. Yaacov Toren decided to undertake the complicated process of enabling Kerem Shalom - a pedestrian crossing - to transfer humanitarian and commercial goods.
The Palestinians, Treiber said, also refused to cooperate with Israel on the construction of the new Erez terminal crossing, which is scheduled to be up and running within six months. In an effort to expedite the inspection process, Treiber said, he asked the Palestinians to build a pathway within PA territory and to begin inspecting people there, but they refused to meet with him.
If the Palestinians refused to coordinate in operating the new terminal, Treiber said, his goal of passing 5,000 workers per hour through the crossing would not be met and instead it would take the same time it takes today - four hours.
Who are those who refuse to coordinate with him? "People associated with Dahlan," Treiber said. "It is always the same people with the same wrong priorities and the same lies."