Photo: Amit Shabi
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman
Photo: Amit Shabi

Lieberman says Abbas 'lost his senses' after acrimonious speech

Defense minister says Israel plans to continue security coordination with PA noting, 'If they stop it, it would be their decision'; he also discusses Palestinian intransigence: 'The Palestinians have always found a reason why not. Abbas doesn't want an agreement with Israel.'

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Monday that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has "lost his senses" after his acrimonious speech against Israel and US President Donald Trump the previous day.



"He's trying to bring down all of our homes—the home of the Palestinians, that of the Americans and that of the Jews," Lieberman told Ynet in an interview.


Lieberman noted Abbas' address symbolized his giving up on the prospect of peace negotiations and opting instead for a confrontation with both Israel and the United States.


Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman  (Photo: Amit Shabi)
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman (Photo: Amit Shabi)


However, he warned the Palestinian president has lost the support of moderate Arabs. "The entire moderate world is telling him: 'If it's between you and the US, we'll go with the US,'" he said.


In his speech at a PLO Central Council meeting, Abbas threatened to nix the Oslo Accords, which would mean the collapse of the Palestinian Authority, which he heads. Unlike previous threats, this time the Palestinian leader didn't try to challenge the PA's security coordination.


"The Palestinians enjoy the security coordination more than we do," Lieberman said. Evidence of that, he argued is the fact that "their conditions in Judea and Samaria and their standard of living is better than in Gaza."


"We're not threatening, and we don't intend to stop" the security coordination, the defense minister stressed. "If they stop it, it would be their decision."


He asserted that the violent Palestinian protests in the West Bank are instigated by the Palestinian Authority. "I was looking at photos of those clashing with IDF forces. All of those trying to film the clashes are all paid by the PA, or they're employees of the (Palestinian) security services, or their family members. I didn't see an average Palestinian following every decision by Abbas, and that's good," Lieberman said.


Palestinian President Abbas (Photo: Reuters)
Palestinian President Abbas (Photo: Reuters)


The defense minister also accused the Palestinians of intransigence, saying "Abbas met with Olmert in Annapolis, and everything was ready for a big ceremony at the White House, and then Abbas broke the rules. Ehud Barak met with Arafat and nothing came out of that, either. The Palestinians have always found a reason why not."


"You don't need to find excuses," he asserted. "Abbas doesn't want an agreement with Israel, and his goal is to wear us down on the international arena. He thinks he has an automatic majority on the international arena, and his strategy is to wear us down because he knows he doesn't stand a chance in direct confrontation."


Lieberman was confident the IDF would "eliminate all of the attack tunnels at Hamas's disposal" by the end of 2018, adding the Gaza underground obstacle, which is supposed to block new cross-border tunnels, "is providing an excellent solution" to the problem.


The defense minister stressed the tunnel demolished on Sunday was important. "The tunnel was supposed to be used for an attack in Kerem Shalom, which is the strip's main line of oxygen," he said.


'It's unlikely there'll be a Palestinian partner' 

Abbas sharply escalated his rhetoric in a speech on Sunday, lashing out at Trump over recent policy moves, such as recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Abbas also slammed Trump's recent Twitter comment threatening to cut American aid and alleging the Palestinians are no longer willing to negotiate a peace deal with Israel.


"Since when did we reject negotiations?" Abbas told members of the Palestinian Central Council, a key decision-making body. "Shame," Abbas said, addressing Trump.


To laughter from the crowd, Abbas then added the phrase "Yekhreb Beitak," literally translated as "may your house be demolished."


In colloquial Palestinian Arabic, the phrase can have different connotations, from a harsh to a casual insult, but its use in a widely watched speech seemed jarring. 


Education Minister Naftali Bennett, meanwhile, said the content and style of the speech represented Abbas' swan song.


"Abbas is at the end of his road, toward the end of his rule and the end of his life," he told Army Radio. "There appears to be no Palestinian partner and it is unlikely there will be."


Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Photo: Hadas Frosh/Flash 90)
Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Photo: Hadas Frosh/Flash 90)


Trump infuriated Palestinians and Muslims around the world when he announced late last year that the US would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move its embassy there, upending decades of US policy and countering an international consensus that the fate of Jerusalem should be decided in negotiations between the sides.


Abbas has said that by siding with the Israelis on a sensitive issue, the announcement had destroyed Trump's credibility as a Mideast peace broker.


The Associated Press contributed to this story.


פרסום ראשון: 01.15.18, 13:36
 new comment
This will delete your current comment