Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman on Tuesday accused the Palestinian Authority of anti-Semitism, saying a letter it sent the European Union was reminiscent of Nazi rhetoric.
The letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Times of Israel, is hostile in tone, and includes harsh allegations against Israel. It makes no specific reference to Jews, and it is not clear which passages so incensed the foreign minister.
In a meeting with his Australian counterpart Bob Carr in Jerusalem, Liberman also blamed the Palestinians for obstructing the peace process and reiterated his view that no agreement with the Palestinians was possible as long as PA President Mahmoud Abbas was in power.
“In recent months, Israel has made an effort to improve the atmosphere with the Palestinians through a series of goodwill gestures,” the foreign minister said in a statement. Such steps included issuing permits to 5,000 Palestinians to work in Israel; advancing NIS 180 million ($45 million) to the PA in tax transfers ahead of Ramadan; approving an agreement between the Israel Electric Company and the Palestinian Energy Authority to build four electric power substations in the West Bank; and removing roadblocks in the area.
“The Palestinians’ response to these steps arrived on July 24, when they sent a slanderous letter to the European Union in which they falsely accused Israel of theft and exploitation of natural resources, the closing of the Gaza Strip, destruction of projects in Area C [in the Israel-controlled part of the West Bank], settler violence directed at the Palestinian population, building in the settlements and more,” Liberman added.
During his meeting with Carr, the foreign minister said the “the style and spirit of the letter is better suited to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Der Stürmer.”
The Protocols, first published in 1903, are an anti-Semitic hoax describing how Jews purportedly planned to take over the world. Der Sturmer was one of the Third Reich’s most fiercely anti-Semitic propaganda organs.
On July 24 — the day the Palestinian Foreign Ministry sent the hostile letter to the EU — Liberman was in Brussels on the occasion of the EU-Israel Association Council, during which the two parties agreed to renew trade and political relations. The Palestinians complained that the EU was elevating relations with Israel, which they said amounted to “further integration of Israel into the EU.”
EU officials say no substantial upgrade of bilateral relations has taken place since 2009, and that last month’s agreement merely signifies the commitment to extend existing relations into the future.
The letter makes no explicit mention of Jews. Asking the EU to reconsider its “practical upgrading” of relations to Israel, it uses strong language to accuse Israel of various offenses that “endanger the prospects of peace in the region and undermine the two-state solution.”
Among other things, the letter slams Israel for “dramatic levels of unprecedented settlement expansion and settler violence; theft and exploitation of resources… the prolonged use of administrative detention without charges or trial… the practice of extra-judicial killings and torture.”