There will be neither diplomatic progress nor an accord with the Palestinians as long as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas remains in power, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said Tuesday.
Liberman, in a meeting with visiting Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr, slammed the PA for a letter it sent to the EU on July 24th urging it to reconsider its relations with Israel.
The letter, coinciding with the annual EU-Israel Association Council meeting, urged the EU not to grant Israel "any upgrade whether it be official or practical," and not to give the country any preferential treatment, nor allow further integration into the EU.
Liberman termed that letter "slanderous," and said it accused Israel of theft and exploitation of natural resources, closing off the Gaza Strip, destroying projects in Area C and settler violence. The letter also accused Israel of changing the demographic situation in Jerusalem, prolonged use of administrative detention, and the practice of "extra-judicial killings and torture."
The style and spirit of the letter, Liberman said, according to a statement issued by his office, was "better suited to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Der Sturmer."
Liberman complained that this letter came even though Israel in recent months "has gone to considerable length to improve the relationship with the Palestinians," and took a number of steps aimed at improving the overall atmosphere.
Among those steps, he said, was a decision on July 14 to provide work permits to 5,000 additional Palestinian workers and to advance to the PA – so it could pay salaries before Ramadan — NIS 180 million against future tax transfers.
Liberman also noted an agreement signed between the Israel Electric Company and the Palestinian Energy Authority for the building of four electric power substations in the West Bank ; that Jerusalem had authorized infrastructure industrial and infrastructure projects in Area C; and that it had also removed additional roadblocks in the West Bank,.
Liberman\’s comments to the Australian foreign minister came against the background of the renewed threat by the PA to ask the UN General Assembly in September for observer status as a non-member state.
Israel, according to diplomatic sources, is interested in combating the Palestinian narrative that they are going to the UN because nothing is moving in negotiations, by countering that nothing is moving because the Palestinians are unwilling to enter talks.
"The whole Palestinian position is that they are going to the UN because things are going nowhere. We want to make clear that the reason the peace process has stalled is because the Palestinians have refused to engage," one government official said.
Israel\’s hope, he added, was that countries important for the Palestinians would send them a message that this move would be counterproductive, and that they would oppose it.