FM Lieberman in Knesset 248.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman disregarded Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's provocative statements on how he would have constructed the Israeli government, were he prime minister, as an attempt by an illegitimate leader to gain ground by extreme declarations.
"Abu Mazen [Abbas] isn't exactly legitimate, hence neither is his new demand, or suggestion, to replace Lieberman with Tzipi Livni. I see such advice as a blessing. His demand to cease settlement construction is nothing more than an expression of his distress and incompetence," he told Israel Radio on Monday, noting that the lower Abu Mazen's legitimacy drops, the harsher his demands become.
"We signed an agreement with the Palestinian Authority, which represents all the Palestinians. Today we have 'Fatah-land' in the West Bank and 'Hamas-stan' in Gaza. Who exactly does Abu Mazen represent? At best, half of the nation," Lieberman said.
Ministers and MKs from across the political spectrum reacted with disgust to Abbas's statement Sunday that, if he were prime minister of Israel, he would have appointed Kadima leader Tzipi Livni as foreign minister and not Israel Beiteinu chairman Lieberman.
Over the weekend, Abbas claimed in an interview with the Egyptian weekly October that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had backed himself into a corner regarding the Palestinians, and that if he tried to emerge from it, he would face fierce opposition from Lieberman.
The PA president said that things would have been different with Livni in the coalition.
Abbas joined French President Nicholas Sarkozy, who reportedly told Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu last month that he should "get rid of" Lieberman and replace him with Livni.
Deputy Foreign Ministry, MK Danny Ayalon, said that Abbas's statement was "intolerable."
"Foreign interference in Israel is unacceptable, and it is even graver when it comes from a Palestinian leader who insists on Palestinian refugees coming to Israel, which would destroy our Jewish state," Ayalon said.
Israel Beiteinu minister Uzi Landau added that any Palestinian state Israel would help create would become part of the axis of evil. Shas chairman Eli Yishai said Abbas's statement was "another reminder that there is no one to talk on the Palestinian side." National Union MK Aryeh Eldad responded that he would prefer that moderate Palestinian academic Sari Nusseibeh be the PA's president and that "if the French want Tzipi Livni to be their foreign minister, we should strongly consider it."
Even Kadima MK Nachman Shai denounced Abbas for interfering in Israeli politics.
"In another year or two, he will get a Kadima government, but until then he will have to negotiate with this government for better or for worse," Shai said.
Livni herself declined to comment, but sources close to her pointed out that Abbas was refusing to deal with Netanyahu's government, even though she had made the same demands regarding recognizing Israel as a Jewish state and not permitting the right of return.
"This is further proof that you can justify Israel's causes and fight for its interests and have doors open around the world and not shut like they are today," a source close to Livni said.