The Israeli governent on Friday shrugged off a revived threat by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, decrying the lack of progress in peace talks, to dismantle the PA and “give the keys to the Muqata’a” — his government complex in Ramallah — to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Likud minister Gideon Sa’ar scoffed that the “archives are full of reports on the dozens of times Abbas has threatened to quit.” Abbas, said Sa’ar, has “no intention of giving back the keys… He’s not going anywhere.” And the reason there were no peace talks, Sa’ar said, was that Abbas had refused to enter negotiations without pre-conditions.
Former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman, who has repeatedly branded Abbas “a political terrorist,’ was quoted by Channel 2 as saying Abbas was welcome to quit as soon as he wanted. Sa’ar indicated, however, that this was not Netanyahu’s position, and that Netanyahu’s 2009 Bar Ilan speech conditionally supporting Palestinian statehood, had not shifted.
Labor’s Binjyamin Ben-Eliezer, by contrast, said Israel should internalize that it will have “no more pleasant partner” than Abbas and ought to work with him toward an accord. Hatnua leader Tzipi Livni slammed what she said was the “extremism” in the Likud and on the right that have deadlocked peace efforts.
Abbas, in comments in a meeting with Meretz leaders and in an interview with Haaretz, threatened to dump responsibility for the Palestinians on the Israeli leader.
Netanyahu, the Palestinian leader added, would have to decide after the upcoming elections which direction to take regarding peace talks with the Palestinians.
Abbas, who spearheaded the recent successful diplomatic effort to upgrade the Palestinians’ status to nonmember observer state in the United Nations, has threatened many times to resign and dismantle the PA.
Abbas also said Israel had reduced its security cooperation with Palestinians in the West Bank to protest their successful bid for upgraded status at the United Nations.
Israel’s military denied the charge and said security cooperation continues.
Abbas said Israeli soldiers have started entering West Bank cities without Palestinian coordination.
An Abbas aide, Tayeb Abdel Rahim, said Israel’s army detained 200 Palestinian officers in recent months, mostly for short interrogations.
Israeli defense officials responded Friday that soldiers enter Palestinian cities only when they think Palestinian security forces are not providing enough support. They spoke anonymously in line with government regulations.
Israel earlier suggested the possibility of reducing security cooperation in retaliation for the Palestinian UN campaign.