Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said Friday that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas wouldn’t be alive if not for security cooperation between Israel and the PA.
“The security coordination between Israel and the Palestinians is in [Abbas’s] interest no less than ours, if not more. He is still alive thanks to the security coordination,” Liberman was quoted as saying by the Ynet news site. Liberman was speaking at an event in Jerusalem.
The defense minister, who has long been a harsh critic of the PA chief, pointed to the killing of figures from Abbas’s Fatah party by Hamas during its violent takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007, implying security cooperation between Israel and the PA was keeping Abbas from meeting a similar fate.
“We saw what happened in Gaza and how they killed all the Fatah activists who didn’t manage to escape after Hamas took over the Strip,” said Liberman. “Therefore we don’t need to always present the security coordination as solely an Israeli interest.”
With this, Liberman said he did not feel “threatened” by Abbas’s repeated threats to end security coordination, which the PA leader reiterated at a Wednesday meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Following the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Abbas threatened the PA would no longer adhere to the Oslo Accords, which established the PA and in turn security cooperation between the sides.
Liberman also took aim at Abbas’s stated commitment to reaching an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, saying the PA head was using US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital as an excuse to walk away from US led-talks, which the defense minister said Israel is prepared to engage in.
“The ball is in his court because we were ready to hear a new American initiative,” Liberman said.
In his speech Wednesday, Abbas said due to Trump’s declaration — which he called a “crime” and a “gift” to the “Zionist movement” — the Palestinians would no longer accept any future role for the US in the peace process. He also said East Jerusalem, which Israel captured from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War, should immediately be recognized as the capital of Palestine.
A White House official later said Abbas’s rhetoric “has prevented peace for years,” while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the “Palestinians had better face up to reality and strive for peace rather than escalation.”
In his White House address last week, Trump stressed that he was not specifying the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the city, and called for no change in the status quo at the city’s holy sites. He insisted that after repeated failures to achieve peace, a new approach was long overdue, describing his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the seat of Israel’s government as merely based on reality.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.