Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman on Thursday criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for transferring a NIS 250 million advance of tax revenue to the Palestinian Authority, saying that Israel should stick to written agreements and refrain from making goodwill gestures toward the Palestinians.
Acknowledging the 19th anniversary of the Oslo Accords, Liberman slammed the peace agreement and reiterated a previous indictment of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, again calling him a “diplomatic terrorist.”
Liberman, who was speaking during a new year’s toast at the Foreign Ministry, said it was “a grave mistake” for Israel to once again transfer advance payments of tax money it collected on behalf of the Palestinians to the PA. “We have no reason whatsoever to go beyond any written agreements,” he said.
Addressing Palestinian demands for Israel to reassess the terms of the so-called Paris Protocols, which regulate Israeli-Palestinian economic relations and were signed in 1994 as an addendum to the Oslo Accords, the foreign minister said: “We can say with absolutely clarity: This will not happen.”
Ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which this year began on July, Israel advanced the transfer a month’s worth of tax money to the PA, in what government officials said was a goodwill gesture toward the Palestinians.
On Tuesday, Netanyahu, after consulting with Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, ordered the transfer of a NIS 250 million advance to the Palestinian Authority from tax revenues collected by Israel. In recent days, Palestinians have been protesting against mounting commodity prices.
“We are working on several fronts in order to help the Palestinian Authority cope with its economic problems. We have made several changes in the taxation agreements. We are advancing certain transfers. We have also helped with Palestinian workers and with a series of other steps in order to make things easier for them,” Netanyahu said.
Liberman also said that Israeli should in the future refrain from transferring advance tax money to the PA — because of its alleged support for terrorism and anti-Israel incitement.
“Nineteen years have passed since [the Oslo Agreement was signed] and we don’t need to get to the 20-year anniversary before we can — and should — learn lessons and try to evaluate the pluses and minuses,” Liberman said. “There is no doubt that it was Israel’s most failed diplomatic process since the founding of the state.”
On September 13, 1993, then-prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) leader Yasser Arafat signed the so-called Declaration of Principles, which are known today as Oslo Accords, in Washington, DC. Under the agreement, Israel acknowledged the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people and announced its intention to begin peace negotiations. The PLO, for its part, acknowledged Israel’s right to exist in peace and vowed to refrain from terrorism against Israel.
“Abu Mazen [Abbas] has no chance to survive. His government is dead; he can maybe hold on for a year or two, not more than that. He’s just not capable,” Liberman told reporters. “He doesn’t represent anyone and he has no legitimacy.”
Liberman said that while he was not advocating for a complete annulment of the Oslo Accords, Israel should stick to the letter of the law and not try to go out of its way to try to artificially ensure the PA’s survival.
“He [Abbas] and his government are living on borrowed time,” Liberman said. “It is impossible to save them. Just like it’s impossible to save the rotten regimes of the Arab countries [affected by the Arab Spring], it is not possible to save [Abbas’s] rotten regime. No donations and money transfers or public support in the international arena will help. He lost all credibility with the Palestinian public, and it’s not our business who will succeed him.”