Yisrael Beytenu leader MK Avigdor Lieberman claimed Thursday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is holding secret negotiations with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Lieberman, who is not currently a member of the government, told Ynet that Netanyahu has been concealing these negotiations from the security cabinet.
"There are several strange signs, which I interpret as an attempt by the prime minister to hide the negotiations with Abbas from the cabinet,” Lieberman said in an interview at Ynet's studio. “We suddenly saw two weeks ago that the prime minister is willing to clear his entire schedule for a meeting with Abbas. We see that, in magical fashion, the dispute between the Israel Electric Corporation and the Palestinian Authority over debts has been resolved, and all of the power outages have suddenly stopped.”
Lieberman claims that the Palestinians’ main demand in these alleged secret negotiations is the halting of all IDF activity in Area A that, according to the Oslo Accords, is supposed to be under full Palestinian civil and military control.
“There are negotiations over the whether the actual meeting will take place. I estimate that Netanyahu and Abbas have been exchanging papers, which on one hand contain Palestinian demands, and on the other contain all sorts of Israeli promises,” he alleged.
Lieberman also asserted there is a connection between the supposed negotiations and rumors about a possible alliance between the Zionist Union and the Likud parties, which would significantly expand the coalition government.
“Neyanyahu was counting on (Zionist Union leader Isaac) Herzog bringing it with him as a dowry, and into the coalition,” he said, “The coalition expansion project has ended for now, and so it’s unclear how Netanyahu will maneuver in the coming days," the Yisrael Beytenu leader said.
The former foreign minister said that more information may come to light after Abbas’s visit to New York. “Then we will be able to know if they reached any sort of understanding, or if Netanyahu, due to an inability to expand the coalition, has dropped all of the promises and diplomatic negotiations,” he said.
Lieberman also attacked the prime minister, saying, “It’s not good for Israel’s message. On one hand, Netnayahu blames Abbas for being the chief inciter, and on the other he’s willing to clear his schedule to meet with him. This is a confusing and contradictory message and you can’t convince anyone with it, not the international community and not the citizens of Israel. Besides, we’re talking, as always, about Israeli concessions first. We haven’t seen demands that Abbas, for instance, condemns terror attacks against Israeli civilians. Abbas has backed all terror attacks up to now so it’s hard for me to see something positive for us about those negotiations - that are probably taking place at the moment.”
Following IDF officials’ expression of concerns about an escalation in violence leading up to Passover, Lieberman called for public officials to avoid provocations. “I certainly hope that all political actors behave responsibly. We have no interest in an escalation, we have no interest in provocation, it’s unnecessary, and we all hope that the holidays pass quietly and the peple of Israel will be able to celebrate safely,” he said.