Liberman calls Abbas a 'liar, a coward and a wimp'

FM says PA president living “on borrowed time”; PA spokesman responds: “Liberman and his friends do not choose the leaders of the Palestinians.”

Avigdor Liberman 370 (photo credit: Yossi Zamir)
Avigdor Liberman 370
(photo credit: Yossi Zamir)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman kept up his campaign against Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday, calling him a “liar, coward and wimp” who would quit if he had any modicum of self-respect.
Liberman, who last month sent a letter to the Mideast Quartet calling for Abbas to be replaced, said at a briefing with reporters that the PA leader neither represents anyone nor controls anything. He repeated his charge in the letter to the Quartet that Abbas was engaged in diplomatic terrorism, which he said was even worse than conventional terrorism.
Referring to the recent violent economic protests in the PA, Liberman said Abbas and his government were living “on borrowed time” and that it would be impossible to save them just as it was impossible to save other “rotten regimes” in the Arab world.
No contributions or transfers of money will help the PA, he said, coming out against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s decision this week to advance it NIS 250 million in tax revenue transfers.
“He has simply lost all his credit with the Palestinians,” he said. “It is not our business who will come in his place. If they want to conduct a dialogue [with Israel], we will do so. If they don’t, we will know how to act with those who don’t want a dialogue with us.”
Liberman said that Israel should not be concerned about a PA economic collapse.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in a Rosh Hashana interview with The Jerusalem Post that will appear Sunday, said the opposite and that Israel was concerned about who might replace Abbas.
“I don’t think anyone looking at this rationally would want an economic collapse that would lead to a take over of Iran’s proxy in the suburbs of Jerusalem,” he said, referring to Hamas.
In response to the foreign minister’s comments, PA spokesman Nabil Abu Rudaineh said the Palestinians are the only ones who choose their leaders.
“Liberman and his friends do not choose the leaders of the Palestinians,” Abu Rudaineh said. The PA spokesman said that Liberman’s remarks reflected the status of a “defeated man who is boycotted by the world.”
Abu Rudaineh called on Netanyahu to clarify his position regarding Liberman’s remarks.
“It is unacceptable for the Israeli government to say that Liberman does not represent it,” he added. “Liberman’s statement are completely unacceptable.”
Senior Likud political sources have said that Liberman’s attacks on Abbas were motivated by a sense that the elections are around the corner, and that he is looking for an issue that would resonate with the electorate.
Previous issues Liberman has championed, such as the haredi draft, have been usurped by others, the sources said.
Liberman also termed the Oslo Accords the worst diplomatic mistake Israel has made since 1948.
Weighing in on the friction with the US over the Iranian nuclear issue, the foreign minister said this was not the first time there have been differences between the US and Israel. But, he said, Jerusalem’s relationship with the US was a cornerstone of Israeli foreign policy.
“All disputes should be handled outside of the media [and not in the form] of a public discussion,” he said.
Liberman also defended fellow Yisrael Beytenu MK and Tourism Minister Stas Meseznikov, saying that although his behavior is not comparable to that of United Torah Judaism MKs Menahem Eliezer Moses or Yisrael Eichler, the allegations levied against him this week in a Channel 2 report by a former bodyguard were far from the truth. The bodyguard accused the minister of missing work – including a critical cabinet meeting dealing with the release of Gilad Schalit – because of his partying, which allegedly included drinking and frequenting strip clubs.
Liberman said he valued Meseznikov’s professionalism and that he judged politicians by their work and not what they do in their free time. said that what Meseznikov did in his free time did not interest him, and that what he was interested in was how he performed as a minister. As a minister, he said, Meseznikov has performed very well, as attested by a booming tourism industry.
Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.