Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is not a partner for a genuine peace deal, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Saturday in an interview in which he poured ice-cold water on US-led peace efforts, also predicting that a permanent accord would not be attained in his lifetime.
Speaking to Channel 2, the Likud minister said bitterly that the Palestinian leader was “a partner for taking, but not a partner for giving. He’s not a partner for a final agreement, at the end of which there is recognition of Israel’s rights as the nation state of the Jewish people, an end of the conflict and an end to all demands. He [Abbas] says this openly,” said Ya’alon.
The defense minister, a former IDF chief of staff and a very senior government figure, who has filled in as prime minister when Benjamin Netanyahu is indisposed, said he believed full peace “won’t happen in my generation.”
Ya’alon, who has previously been highly critical of US-proposed security arrangements for the West Bank, also warned that if Israel pulled out of the territories, Hamas would topple Abbas, and said the only thing keeping Abbas in power was Israel. “If we won’t be in the West Bank, Hamas will rule there and Abbas will not be relevant,” he said, warning of the potential formation of a second “Hamas-stan” alongside Israel. “Today Abbas exists because of our bayonets.”
Ya’alon panned Abbas for making no concessions at all during the past eight months of negotiations with Israel. “He only received [released Palestinian] prisoners,” but made no concessions toward a peace deal, Ya’alon said of Abbas.
Ya’alon backed up Netanyahu’s insistence that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
“It’s impossible to make an agreement without recognition by the other side of our right to exist as the national state of the Jewish people in some kind of borders,” he said.
Concerning the possible freeing of Israeli Arabs in the fourth and final batch of prisoner releases set for later this month, Ya’alon said Israel only agreed to free Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails from before Oslo, and said that he opposed Abbas’s attempt to represent Israeli Arabs.
He implied that Secretary of State John Kerry had failed to act as an honest broker on the issue, saying that Abbas “maybe got from Kerry” the impression that Israel was prepared to free Israeli Arab terrorists in the context of the ongoing peace talks. But no such indication was given by the government of Israel, Ya’alon said.
Kerry has been trying to broker an extension of the current talks, which began last July and are set to end in April. The secretary has been drafting a framework accord as a basis for further talks, but has yet to formally present it to the sides.
Abbas is set to hold talks with US President Barack Obama at the White House on Monday. Palestinian officials have repeatedly indicated that Abbas intends to reject Kerry’s framework document and refuse to extend the talks.