Did Abbas Nix Shalit's Freedom?

Abbas denied a report that he wrecked a deal to free Gilad Shalit because of fears it would strengthen Hamas and threaten the PA.

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu, | updated: 21:18

Gilad Shalit, kidnapped  three years ago
Gilad Shalit, kidnapped three years ago
Israel news photo

The office of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman Tuesday night denied a report quoting him as saying that Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas wrecked a deal to free kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit because of fears it would strengthen Hamas and threaten the PA. Voice of Israel government radio reported the accusation, allegedly made in Denmark at the end of the Foreign Minister's two-day visit Tuesday.

The radio network had stated that Abbas objected to Israel’s proposed release of 450 terrorists out of fears that Hamas would escalate violent attacks on members of Fatah, the organization headed by Abbas, in Gaza as well as Judea and Samaria. Hamas took control in Gaza more than two years ago in a bloody military war with Abbas’ Fatah forces, many of whom had been trained by U.S. Army officers.

The Foreign Minister spoke at a press conference with his Danish counterpart in Copenhagen as he wound up his two-day visit there prior to traveling to the Hague before returning to Israel on Thursday.

He also took the opportunity to attack the Arab world for “contributing less than rest of world to improving lives of Palestinians on the ground and the normalization of relations between the Palestinians and Israel."  

Lieberman, chairman of the Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel Is Our Home) party, also asserted that the United States is the only country that can convince Abbas to resume negotiations with Israel for a new PA state.

As Lieberman was speaking in Denmark, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel spoke at the annual Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly in Washington and said, “The Palestinians must come to the table, recognize Israel's right to exist and reject violence." 

Abbas has rejected resumption of talks because Israel has not agreed to the demand that it halt all construction for Jews in eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, a move that would implicitly strengthen the PA claim that the area be part of a future Arab country. He refused Israel's demand that the PA recognize that Israel is the Jewish homeland.