Just days after telling the press of his hopes for Mahmoud Abbas' resignation, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is continuing in his onslaught against the Palestinian president.
A letter sent by Lieberman Wednesday to all of the foreign missions in Israel under the heading of "Israel and the Palestinian Authority: Current Assessment", states that Abbas and the Palestinian Authority's policy of de-legitimizing Israel "cannot be understood other than as a means of furthering Chairman Abbas' own personal agenda, particularly with regard to ensuring his historical legacy".
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In the letter, Lieberman's office stressed that while Israel has made several overtures towards the Palestinians – including Netanyahu's Bar-Ilan speech, in which he recognized the two state solution, the settlement construction freeze, removing roadblocks, increasing the number of work visas for Palestinians in Israel and accepting the Quartet's initiative last month – the Palestinians meanwhile have taken a "diametrically opposed position".
Foreign Minister Lieberman: Doesn't trust Abbas? (Photo: AFP)
"Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and other senior Palestinian officials have consistently exploited the fact that the Netanyahu Government is perceived as hard-line, in order to advance their attempts to delegitimize Israel and tarnish its image internationally," the letter claimed.
The culprit according to the letter is Abbas: "These antagonistic Palestinian policies cannot reasonably be understood apart from the personal conduct and goals of Palestinian Authority Chairman Abbas.
"Chairman Abbas' prolonged eschewal of dialogue and preference for unilateralism, underscored by his recent bid for independence through the UN, coupled with his unabashed drive for unity with Hamas, are inimical to Palestinian interests, as many senior Palestinian officials have readily conceded."
According to the foreign minister, Abbas' stance is more rigid than of that presented by the Palestinians in the past.
Mahmoud Abbas: Under attack (Photo: Reuters)
Lieberman explains that the Palestinian demand for a construction freeze in the settlements and Jerusalem as a precondition to negotiations was made by Abbas. "Even Yasser Arafat never made such a demand."
The minister concludes his letter by stating: "No agreement will ever be possible as long as Mahmoud Abbas leads the Palestinian Authority, given his preference for sacrificing key Palestinian interests in favor of his historical legacy and personal future.
"Consequently, efforts should be focused on maintaining and expanding Israeli-Palestinian economic and security cooperation. Unfortunately, a realistic appraisal of the situation indicates that attempts to proceed further at this time, towards political understandings, will surely end in failure."
Lieberman's earlier statements drew criticism from the EU. A European Union official said Tuesday that the criticism of the Palestinian President was "not helpful," as it harmed prospects for renewed negotiations between the two parties.
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