Terrorist organization Hamas will soon control the Palestinian Authority through its unity deal with Fatah, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said Tuesday.
Speaking to Israel’s diplomatic corps and President Shimon Peres at the presidential residence in Jerusalem on Israel’s 66th Independence Day, Liberman said Hamas was sure to win any future elections in the PA by a large margin.
“Hamas is on its way to controlling the whole Palestinian Authority,” he said.
Hamas’s inclusion in elections to the PA’s Legislative Council in 2006 led the group to a sweeping victory in the polls and to an uneasy unity government with Fatah under PA President Mahmoud Abbas. The resulting power struggles between the groups led in 2007 to Hamas’s violent takeover of the Gaza Strip. Hamas has controlled Gaza while the PA has controlled the West Bank ever since.
Liberman said the terror group’s re-inclusion in West Bank politics would spell the end of Fatah power there.
“Regardless of when elections will take place, it is clear that Hamas will win convincingly,” Liberman said. “Abbas brought Hamas to power in Gaza and he is now bringing them to power in Judea and Samaria.”
“However, we are determined to prevent Judea and Samaria from becoming the new Gaza,” he added.
Liberman also accused the Palestinian Authority of having “absolutely no desire” to achieve peace with Israel and said Abbas “deliberately blew up” the recent US-led effort to reach an accord.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month announced Israel was pulling out of the process after Abbas surprisingly struck a reconciliation deal with Hamas.
The Palestinian leader, Liberman said, “needs to decide if he is prepared for peace and with whom. It is impossible to have peace with Israel and Hamas.”
The foreign minister asserted that Abbas was seeking to wear Israel down through continued, fruitless negotiating.
“Even though we are celebrating Independence Day and not Purim,” Liberman quipped, “it is time to remove the mask from the face of Mahmoud Abbas and say clearly that he consistently rejects peace.”
US National Security Advisor Susan Rice will arrive in Israel on Wednesday for high-level talks which will presumably address the state of the peace process, as well as the upcoming round of talks between Iran and Western powers over the Islamic republic’s nuclear program.
US State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf Monday dismissed reports that Secretary of State John Kerry had decided to dismantle the team of negotiators who have been based on the ground in Jerusalem for months trying to push forward the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
“We’re going to see where this goes from here and, you know, figure out what makes sense in terms of staffing,” she told reporters.
Chief US negotiator Martin Indyk was said to have been quoted anonymously in an interview in the Israeli daily, Yedioth Ahronoth, in which US officials blamed Israel for the breakdown in the talks and said Netanyahu “did not move more than an inch.”
Harf insisted no one side was to blame, saying “both sides did things that were incredibly unhelpful.”
AFP and Rebecca Shimoni Stoil contributed to this report.