'No peace breakthrough as long as Abbas in power'

Liberman’s comments come as Mofaz readies for high-level talks in DC; FM also slams coalition partner Yishai over migrant issue.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman 311 (R) (photo credit: Ronen Zvulun / Reuters)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman 311 (R)
(photo credit: Ronen Zvulun / Reuters)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman slammed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday, saying that as long as he was in power there would be no diplomatic breakthrough.
Liberman, speaking in the Knesset at a meeting of his Yisrael Beytenu faction, said it was clear that the incident Sunday in the South Hebron Hills – where two Palestinians were killed after an Israeli truck driver from Ashkelon said they ambushed him and tried to steal his truck – was a terrorist incident.
Israelis must stop “deluding” themselves and labeling various terrorist incidents as criminal acts, he said.
“What happened yesterday was the prevention of another Gilad Schalit incident,” Liberman declared.
The foreign minister condemned Abbas for saying that what happened in the southern Hebron hills was the cold blooded murder of Palestinians by messianic settlers under the cover of the “Israeli occupation army.”
“That says a lot about his intentions,” Liberman said. “Those who need to understand why there is no progress in the diplomatic process need to understand that Abu Mazen [Abbas] is the main obstacle to any progress. He has no interest in coming to any agreement with Israel. Someone who did not reach an agreement with [former prime minister Ehud] Olmert and Tzipi Livni in Annapolis should not expect to reach an agreement with [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu and Liberman. Let us not lie to ourselves.”
No one should have any expectations that a diplomatic breakthrough is around the corner, he said.
Liberman’s comments came as Kadima head Shaul Mofaz headed to Washington for high-level talks with the Obama administration, and as there has been a redoubling of efforts in recent days to arrange a meeting either between Netanyahu and Abbas, or – barring that – at least between Mofaz and Abbas.
Mofaz, who as part of Kadima’s joining the coalition was entrusted with dealing with the Palestinian issue, is scheduled to meet US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and National Security Adviser Tom Donilon.
There is some speculation US President Barack Obama may step in and say hello during the meeting at the White House with Donilon.
Observers noted that the arrangement with Mofaz in the government dealing with the Palestinian issue contained built-in kernels of tension between Mofaz and Liberman, even though Liberman – in the early days of his tenure at the foreign ministry – said he had no interest or intention of dealing with the Palestinian track because he did not think it would bear any fruit.