Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search


Israel's foreign minister wants new elections to replace Palestinian leader Abbas

Avigdor Lieberman wrote to Middle East mediators, calling for new elections to replace Palestinian President Abbas. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu disassociated himself from the letter.

By Ian DeitchAssociated Press / August 22, 2012

In this file photo, Israel's Foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman attends a media briefing at the end of an EU-Israel Association Council at the European Council building in Brussels. Lieberman sent a letter to international Mideast peace mediators calling Abbas an "obstacle to peace."

Yves Logghe/AP/file

Enlarge

JERUSALEM

Israel's foreign minister urged the international community to help oust Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas whose policies he called "an obstacle to peace" in a letter released Wednesday.

Skip to next paragraph

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman wrote to the Quartet of Mideast mediators — the U.S., the U.N., the EU and Russia — this week calling for new elections in the Palestinian Authority in order to replace Abbas, accusing the Palestinian Authority of being "a despotic government riddled with corruption."

'Realistic leadership'

"Despite Mr. Abbas' delays, general elections in the Palestinian Authority should be held and a new, legitimate, hopefully realistic leadership should be elected" he wrote. "Only such a leadership can bring progress with Israel. We must maximize the holding of new elections in the PA alongside the tremendous changes in the Arab world, in order to bring a serious change between Israel and the Palestinians."

Abbas' spokesman, Nabil Abu Rdeneh, rejected Lieberman's statement, calling it an "incitement to violence" that "doesn't contribute in any way to an atmosphere of peace." He urged Israel and the international community to condemn the letter.

Elections for new Palestinian leadership were scheduled for 2010, but have repeatedly been delayed because of the bitter dispute between Abbas' Fatah and the militant Hamas, bitter rivals who had a violent falling out in 2007 and now separately govern the West Bank and Gaza Strip respectively.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also sought to quickly disassociate himself from the letter. An official in the prime minister's office, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said the letter does not represent the government's position.

Hardline party

"While Abbas has created difficulties for restarting negotiations, the government of Israel remains committed to continuing efforts to restart a dialogue with the Palestinians," he said.

Lieberman, who leads a hardline party in Israel, is known for inflammatory rhetoric that has at times agitated his partners in government.

He embarrassed Netanyahu in the past by expressing skepticism over the chances of reaching peace with the Palestinians. In a high-profile speech at the United Nations General Assembly in 2010, he contradicted a goal set by President Barack Obama of reaching a final peace deal in the coming year.

Lieberman wrote that Abbas should be replaced so that peace talks that collapsed in 2008 could be revived.

Abbas has refused to resume talks as long as Israel refuses to stop settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, areas Palestinians want as part of their future state. Israel rejects the calls for a halt to settlement building, and instead has called for peace talks to resume, saying that the settlement issue should be resolved along with other core disputes through negotiations.

'Encouraging a culture of hatred'

Lieberman listed in his letter a number of gestures Israel recently has made to the Palestinians — including agreeing for an additional 5,000 Palestinians to work in Israel and reducing the number of roadblocks — and accused Abbas in return of "encouraging a culture of hatred, praising terrorists, encouraging sanctions and boycotts and calling into question the legitimacy of the state."

"Due to Abbas' weak standing, and his policy of not renewing the negotiations, which is an obstacle to peace, the time has come to consider a creative solution ... in order to strengthen the Palestinian leadership," Lieberman said.

Read Comments

View reader comments | Comment on this story

  • Weekly review of global news and ideas
  • Balanced, insightful and trustworthy
  • Subscribe in print or digital

Special Offer

 

Doing Good

 

What happens when ordinary people decide to pay it forward? Extraordinary change...

Danny Bent poses at the starting line of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Mass.

After the Boston Marathon bombings, Danny Bent took on a cross-country challenge

The athlete-adventurer co-founded a relay run called One Run for Boston that started in Los Angeles and ended at the marathon finish line to raise funds for victims.

 
 
Become a fan! Follow us! Google+ YouTube See our feeds!