The Palestinian Authority countered Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s charges that the Ramallah government is illegal by claiming that Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria is the reason it has not honored its constitution that requires new elections as of two years ago.
Israel's straight-shooting foreign minister told the annual conference of Israeli ambassadors Sunday night, "The PA has an illegitimate government that isn't holding elections." Any agreements with Abbas' illegitimate government would not be binding, he added.
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s term of office expired two years ago, but the division between his hold on Judea and Samaria and the Hamas regime in Gaza has been a principal factor precluding any possibility of new elections.
However, the PA reacted to Lieberman’s comments by placing the blame on Israel. On the official PA WAFA website, Fahmi Zarir, spokesman for the Fatah Revolutionary Council, asserted that PA law cannot co-exist with a Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria.
“We are ready for a general election tomorrow,” he maintained, but insisted that Israel first must “recognize our rights through the recognition and support in the state on 1967 borders, the right to self-determination. The Israeli occupation will not have legitimacy, existence and stability unless our people enjoy their national rights.”
Zarir’s statement places a stronger hammerlock on the American-sponsored “diplomatic process.” Abbas has taken an increasingly hard-line position that “negotiations” with Israel mean Jerusalem’s acceptance of his demands for sovereignty over the Western Wall, Temple Mount and all of the Old City of Jerusalem; all of the capital’s neighborhoods on land restored to Israel in the Six Day War in 1967, consisting of approximately 230,000 Jews; and all of Judea and Samaria.
Abbas also has been holding out for the provision in the Saudi Arabia 2002 Initiative that Israel allow the immigration of several million foreign Arabs who claim "refugee" status due to being descendants of Arabs who left Israel in 1948. This has been rejected by virtually all political leaders in Israel – from the right to the left - as being the death knell of a Jewish state.
Against the background of the PA position, Foreign Minister Lieberman (pictured) told ambassadors behind closed doors that there is no chance of reaching a peace accord with the Palestinian Authority unless a different approach is taken. Paralleling Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s “economic peace” plan of several years ago, the Foreign Minister said that a peace pact is more likely after steps are taken to strengthen and stabilize the PA economy.
Lieberman’s comments were similar to those of many analysts and journalists covering the diplomatic process - a process they have called “brain dead.” However, Lieberman’s tone, in direct opposition to that of modern western diplomats who are careful to soothe foreign officials and show optimism towards Arab initiatives, drew an unusually harsh response from Prime Minister Netanyahu.
“The position of the government of Israel is only that which the Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, expresses,” his office stated.