Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon reiterated on Monday that he did not believe the comments made by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in a television interview over the weekend.
In the interview Abbas hinted that he had given up on the “right of return” when he said that he had no intention of trying to regain his childhood home in the northern town of Tzfat (Safed) in Galilee, which was liberated by Israel in 1948.
He also reiterated his acceptance of the Israeli state within the 1949 Armistice borders that preceded its defeat of combined Arab armies in the 1967 Six Day war.
Ya’alon, however, dismissed the comments as “another manipulation” by Abbas.
“He’s pretending to be seen as someone who is looking for peace, but unfortunately from our experience over the last four years, we offered him again and again to come to the table and he rejected,” he told Arutz Sheva on the sidelines of a conference at the Dead Sea.
Ya’alon also criticized former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, both of whom on Sunday hailed Abbas as “courageous” over his statements and chose to attack Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s government as being responsible for the stalled peace process.
Olmert accused Netanyahu of strengthening Hamas and weakening the PA, which he described as “an authority that believes in nonviolence and negotiations for peace.”
“Unfortunately there are Israeli politicians who are trying to use self-deception to believe that the problem is on our side,” Ya’alon said of Olmert and Livni. He noted that Olmert made a groundbreaking offer to Abbas in 2008, which included offering him 94 percent of Judea and Samaria, a shared jurisdiction of Jerusalem, and allowing 5,000 PA Arabs who left their homes in 1948 back into Israel. Abbas rejected the offer.
“Abbas rejected what was described by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as a very generous and surprising Israeli proposal,” said Ya’alon, adding, “So the problem is with Mahmoud Abbas who is not ready to recognize our right to exist as the nation state of the Jewish people in any boundaries.”
On Sunday, Ya’alon accused Abbas of "systematic incitement to hatred and de-humanizing the State of Israel” and of “not preparing the hearts [of PA Arabs] for reconciliation with Israel and coexistence with it.”
Ya’alon responded to the Kadima party’s election campaign, which claims that Netanyahu is preparing “a nuclear spring” for Israel, and said, “It’s a pity that Israeli politicians are ready to sacrifice Israeli national interests for their personal political interests.”
“I believe the Israeli government proved, in the last four years, that we are a responsible government,” he said. “We didn’t go into any military adventures, but we did and we will emphasize the significance and the importance of stopping the Iranian military nuclear project which is a threat to the stability of the entire world. In this regard I believe we’ve demonstrated responsibility.”