Photo: Gil Yohanan
Lieberman. 'This is not how you run negotiations.'
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Lieberman on threat to dismantle PA: You can't make new threats every day
Foreign minister confident Bayit Yehudi won't leave government over release of Israeli-Arab prisoners: 'I wouldn't take our friend Naftali Bennett's threats to leave the coalition too seriously.'

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman slammed the Palestinians on Tuesday for threatening to dismantle the Palestinian Authority. "You can't show up every day with new threats. This is not how you run negotiations," he said at a press conference alongside his Austrian counterpart.


Despite the fact dismantling the Palestinian Authority would mean Israel would have to govern Palestinian territories in the West Bank and take responsibility over the 2.5 million Palestinian residents within it, Lieberman stressed Israel had no interest in interfering. 


"It's their business, we're not willing to interfere. Whatever they do - we're prepared for any scenario," he said. "We're ready for negotiations - in Jerusalem, in Ramallah, in New York, in Vienna ... but it's up to the other side."


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The Palestinians have threatened to dismantle the PA and declare the failure of peace talks if the fourth and final group of Palestinian prisoners is not released, including 14 Israeli-Arab prisoners.


Bayit Yehudi head Naftali Bennett, however, is adamant not to allow the release of prisoners with an Israeli ID, claiming PA President Abbas does not speak for them, and that their release is an internal matter of the State of Israel.


He has threatened to quit the government if the release of the Israeli-Arab prisoners is approved.


Lieberman, however, is confident Bennett's threats will not come to fruition.


"There's no way Bayit Yehudi leaves the coalition. You shouldn't make - and there is no - connection between declarations and the reality on the ground," said the foreign minister, who himself has announced he would rather go to elections than approve the release of more Palestinian prisoners.


"I wouldn't take our friend Naftali Bennett's threats to leave the coalition too seriously," he added.


The United States warned Monday that dismantling the Palestinian Authority would hurt the Palestinians' ties with the US and the aide it provides them.


Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, however, denied any intention to dissolve the Palestinian Authority, but said Israel's actions "have annulled all the legal, political, security, economic and operational aspects of the prerogatives of the Palestinian Authority."


Israeli and Palestinian negotiators were scheduled to meet again Tuesday in another attempt to reach understandings that would allow a return to the negotiating table. The Palestinians demand that Israel frees prisoners, while Israel demands that the Palestinians commit to continue talks into 2015. The American side was reportedly expected to free Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard to sweeten the deal for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing government.


US mediator Martin Indyk went back to Washington before Passover to consult with US diplomats, while negotiators Saeb Erekat and Tzipi Livni met during his absence in an attempt to continue bridging the gaps, to no avail.


A senior government minister estimated an understanding will be reached by the end of Passover, but since then the Palestinians' demands only increased.


Lieberman also touched upon nuclear negotiations between world powers and Tehran, asserting that "Iran is still the same Iran. We heard Khamenei's recent comments, still calling for the destruction of Israel.


"We see how involved (Iran) is in the Syrian crisis. They're funding terror all over the world, including Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Iran is producing weapons that are being smuggled into the Gaza Strip," Lieberman continued.


"I hope the international community is capable of making real assessments about what's happening in Iran."


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