FM: Riots over film call into question Arab regimes

Foreign minister says Hamas could topple PA in 10-15 months if Abbas is not replaced.

Avigdor Liberman 370 (photo credit: Yossi Zamir)
Avigdor Liberman 370
(photo credit: Yossi Zamir)
The wave of violence in the Arab world over the Innocence of Muslims film raises questions about the governing ability of some of the regimes that gained power as a result of the “Arab Spring,” Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said on Sunday.
There was “no justification” for the violence that swept the Arab world last week and culminated in the killing of the US ambassador in Libya and attacks on various US and French embassies and consulates, Liberman said during an internal Foreign Ministry meeting.
“This raises questions about the ability to rule of those regimes that are not able to prevent brutal attacks on diplomats,” Liberman said, adding that protecting diplomats was a cornerstone of international relations.
“What is happening today is the breaking of all the rules of the game and understandings in relations between countries,” he said.
Liberman said that as a country that had experienced attacks on its diplomats and missions abroad, Israel was “obligated to support the American diplomats in every way possible.”
In September 2011, Israel’s embassy in Cairo was ransacked and six security guards extricated at the last minute from a frenzied mob.
Referring to the anti-Islam film that triggered the explosion of violence, Liberman said that freedom of speech, and freedom of protest, were “different sides of the same coin. But no one has the right to use violence. Those who translate the right to protest into the right to use violence are destroying a basic principle accepted among cultured people.”
Liberman said that there have been more than a few publications, cartoons and films in the recent past insulting Christianity and Judaism – he brought up Mel Gibson’s film The Passion of the Christ (2004) as one example – but “we never crossed the border from protest to violence.” As insulting as things may seem, he said, they “cannot be used as justification for acts of violence against diplomats and embassies.”
In other matters, Liberman made clear on Sunday – following the terrorist attack on the Egyptian border Friday that left one IDF soldier dead – that Israel had no intention of opening the Israeli-Egyptian Camp David treaty to allow for changes, including moving more Egyptian troops and heavier weaponry into Sinai to fight terrorists there.
Liberman said the Egyptians should not delude either themselves or others into thinking that this was a possibility. The problem in Sinai was not one of a lack of Egyptian troops or weapons to fight the terrorist there, but rather a lack of willingness to do what was necessary, he said.
In the Foreign Ministry discussion Liberman related briefly to Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy’s interview with The New York Times over the weekend where he said that “as long as peace and justice are not fulfilled for the Palestinians, then the treaty remains unfulfilled.”
“We are fulfilling the agreement,” Liberman said, adding that the Palestinians were to blame for the fact that a Palestinian state had not been established.
Liberman continued the campaign he began against Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas last month, saying he was “incapable of managing anything.”
If serious efforts were not made to replace Abbas with an alternative leadership, Liberman said, Hamas would take control of the West Bank “within 10 to 15 months.”
Liberman said he would bring this message to meetings he will hold in the coming days at the UN. He is scheduled to fly with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to New York on Wednesday evening to take part in the General Assembly meeting.
Abbas is “tired” and unable to either understand or deal with the current changing reality, Liberman said, and “the only thing he can do is blame Israel for all his sins.
The challenges waiting are too big for him,” he said.
“We don’t have to wait with our arms folded while Hamas gains control of the government,” he said.
On a day when Israel was expected to approve the issuing of 5,000 new work permits for Palestinian agricultural and construction workers, Liberman said it did not matter how many permits Israel issued or how much economic help it gave the financially strapped PA, Abbas was unable to effectively manage the situation.
“The same way the West tried artificially to support [Egyptian president Hosni] Mubarak and [Tunisian president Zine al-Abidine] Ben Ali and in the end it all collapsed, so too it is artificially trying to support Abu Mazen [Abbas] without understanding this is impossible,” he said. “He has lost control and now it is just a matter of time before he falls.”
Asked who could take his place, Liberman replied, “There are many intelligent, experienced, tolerant people in the West Bank who can take over the management and run things properly.”