Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett said Sunday that he was ready to call Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas' bluff on his threats to take his case to international tribunals, unless Israel does what he, Abbas, wants. “Is he doing us a favor by continuing negotiations with us? If he doesn't want to negotiate, that's fine. And if there are no talks he plans to complain to the United Nations? Let him – he will be the one that gets hurt.”
Abbas cannot afford to antagonize Israel too much, said Bennett. “There are many death warrants on the heads of Fatah leaders” at the hands of Hamas and other terrorists. “He has no economy, he has no security. If the IDF abandons him he is finished. I would recommend to him that he not make such threats.”
Abbas last week threatened that if Israel did not release the final batch of terrorists on time, he would “turn to the UN's international organizations." The release of the prisoners is in return for the freeze on seeking membership in international organizations,” Abbas said. "If Israel were to refuse to free the fourth batch it would have serious consequences, including initiatives at the United Nations," threatened former PA negotiator Mohammed Shtayeh.
Israel agreed to release about 100 terrorists last summer, as a “concession” to persuade Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas to resume peace talks after a three year hiatus. The last batch was set to be released Saturday night, but Netanyahu, apparently under pressure from his ministers, has postponed the release.
One way to keep the talks going, the PA said, was for Israel to release even more terrorists. On Saturday, the PA claimed that Israel had offered to release 400 terrorists from its prisons so that peace talks continue. But to Bennett, the idea of releasing any more terrorists is ridiculous. “Why would we release 400 more prisoners? To continue talks? This is not going to happen, I have discussed this with other ministers and I do not see any chance of this passing the government. We in Jewish Home will do everything we can to prevent this,” he added.
And if Israel's refusal means that Abbas will “go to the UN,” so be it, said Bennett. “Let him do it already. We will know how to deal with it. If he wants to establish the Palestinian state as a viable one he will have a lot of problems. He doesn't even have borders, let alone security, government, or independent rule. If it doesn't look like a state and doesn't sound like a state, it's not a state, regardless of what they will say in the UN.”
Regarding the current release that was postponed from Saturday night, Bennett said that Jewish Home opposed it, but the government approved the release. He himself had spoken to Netanyahu on the talks with the PA, telling the Prime Minister that as Abbas has said that he would never recognize Israel as a Jewish state, there was no point in continuing with the negotiations – or releasing more terrorists.