Liberman: Abbas trying to torpedo Gaza agreement

Defense Minister says PA chairman deliberately trying to drag Israel into a confrontation with Hamas.

Elad Benari,

Avigdor Liberman
Avigdor Liberman
Basel Awidat/Flash 90

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said on Monday that Israel is being dragged into a confrontation on the Gaza border because of internal Palestinian Arab conflicts.

"Hamas is not prepared to reconcile with Fatah and to transfer control of the Gaza Strip to [Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud] Abbas’ people. And they are dragging us into the conflict because two sides within the Palestinian camp do not know how to get along. Clear and simple. Abbas knows that he is not capable of overthrowing the Hamas regime by force, he understands that Hamas will not transfer control over the Gaza Strip and therefore is trying to drag us into confrontation with Hamas in the Gaza Strip," Liberman said in an interview on Radio Darom 101.5FM.

Asked about the ongoing kite and balloon terrorism from Gaza, Liberman said that Israel would not restrain itself and would not sign a truce agreement without a complete cessation of the launchings of incendiary kites and balloons.

"Whoever thinks that it is possible to reach a sustainable settlement from one day to the next - that is impossible. We are doing the maximum, in a reasonable manner, without dragging the State of Israel into another war, I think everyone sees this. We do not intend to restrain ourselves, and we want to make a direct connection between those balloons and the conditions of life in the Gaza Strip," he said.

Liberman was asked how Israel would react to Hamas violations of a ceasefire and said, "Every time the response will be more severe. It will escalate each time. It will be a part of the same calculated and planned policy that every time Hamas attacks, the IDF's response will be more difficult than the previous one."

The Defense Minister has come under fire in recent days, particularly by Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett, over the agreement with Hamas that is currently being negotiated, under the mediation of Egypt and the UN.

Bennett is warning that Liberman’s perception will allow Hamas time to grow stronger instead of deterring it from carrying out further attacks.

Liberman last week responded to Bennett’s criticism and said, "My colleagues criticize me, so it's a sign that I am strong and doing the right thing. If I were weak they would ignore me. I lead a clear policy. We will not bring down Hamas with soldiers and by sacrificing our forces. We have to bring the people of Gaza to the realization that it is in their hands to topple the Hamas regime."

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