Ramallah: The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has condemned in the strongest terms the comments of the Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman who warned on Sunday that Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas would pay for seeking a vote in the UN General Assembly to upgrade the status of Palestine to a non-member state.
The ministry is urging the Israeli government to keep Lieberman off Palestinian internal affairs.
“Israel could not prevent the UN General Assembly from approving it, but we will exact a price from Abbas,” Lieberman had told the Israeli daily Haaretz.
For a long time Lieberman has been calling for Abbas to be replaced, and his call has intensified since Abbas accused Israel in the UN General Assembly of committing ethnic cleansing and planning a new Nakbha for the Palestinians.
Lieberman labelled Abbas as the biggest obstacle to peace, and branded Abbas’s address to the UN General Assembly as “worse than a spit in the face of Israel”.
Lieberman claimed that he is in direct contact with Palestinian figures who are ready to take over the Palestinian leadership. “There are enough alternatives in the Palestinian [National] Authority today that are not Hamas,” he said. “I speak to some of these people and they say that Israel and the US are keeping Abbas in control. Israel must stop artificial attempts to support Abbas, which prevents a new leadership from flourishing.”
In a statement, the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has called on the international community to denounce Lieberman’s threats and comments.
“Both the Palestinian leadership and public are in urgent need of international protection,” the statement said.
“By intensifying the campaign against President Abbas, Lieberman is trying to escape the responsibility of the stalled peace negotiations by exporting his government’s political crisis and bankruptcy to the Palestinian side,” the statement added.
Meanwhile, the Israeli government has also criticised Lieberman’s comments. “Lieberman’s comments about the Palestinian [National] Authority and its president do not represent Israeli policy and harm Israeli interests,” said Israel Defence Minister Ehud Barak in an official statement.
“Israel still maintains basic interests in ensuring security in the West Bank, which is currently in a very good state, compared to the past,” Barak added.
Dr. Saeb Erekat, who heads the Palestinian Negotiating Team, said that consultations on a UN General Assembly draft to upgrade Palestine to a non-member state have already started. “Intensive consultations are occurring between Palestine, the UN Arab group and the other international geopolitical groups,” he said. “The voting will take place once those consultations are completed.”