Defense minister Barak denounces Liberman’s attacks on Abbas, warns of Hamas taking control of West Bank if Abbas’ PA collapses.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak over the weekend denounced Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman’s call for the ouster from office of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, claiming that if the PA regime were to lose influence, then the West Bank would come under Hamas control.
Speaking to associates, Barak said, “Liberman’s comments on the Palestinian Authority and its head do not represent the policy of the Israeli government policy, and harm Israel’s interests. If Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) and Salam Fayyad won’t rule Judea and Samaria, as Liberman dreams they won’t, Hamas will.”
Liberman made a series of comments last week against Abbas to counterparts on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly suggesting that Israel cease supporting the Fatah Palestinian leadership.
Liberman reiterated what he had been saying for weeks in Israel, telling the foreign ministers of a dozen countries that as long as Abbas was chairman of the PA there was no chance of forging an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. While describing Abbas as the principle obstacle to peace, he also claimed the PA president had neither the interest nor the ability to properly manage the Palestinians, but instead “travel[s] the world inciting against Israel and blaming it for all his problems.”
His most recent attack on Abbas followed the PA president’s speech to the UNGA, in which Abbas accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing” and pursuing a “policy of war, occupation and settlement colonization.”
In his denouncement of Liberman, Barak signaled his intent to turn to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu with an urgent request to hold a meeting on Israeli policy toward the Palestinian Authority. Barak believes a change in policy is needed, in light of security and economic concerns, irrespective of Abbas’ harsh anti-Israel rhetoric.
“Israel still has basic interests in safeguarding security in Judea and Samaria, which is in a very good place compared to any other time,” Barak said. He attributed the improvement to the IDF and the Shin Bet, as well as the work carried out by Palestinian Authority security forces, and the economic policies of Fayyad and Abbas.
Herb Keinon contributed to this report.
View original Jerusalem Post publication at: http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=286125