Yaalon Says Abbas 'Not a Partner for Peace'

Defense minister argues Israel must keep Judea and Samaria, otherwise Hamas will rise in region to replace Abbas.

Ari Soffer, Ari Yashar ,

Yaalon and Kerry (archive)
Yaalon and Kerry (archive)
Flash 90

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon on Saturday said Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is "not a partner for a final peace deal," adding that Israel must retain a presence in Judea and Samaria. 

US Secretary of State John Kerry's proposals of Israeli withdrawals would replace soldiers with drones in Judea and Samaria. The defense minister told Channel 2 "if we won't be in Judea and Samaria, Hamas will rise up there in place of Abbas."

"I supported (the) Oslo (Accords)," Ya'alon said. "Today too I believe human life takes precedent to land, but I found the conflict is on all of Palestine, they don't recognize our right to exist here. ...It's impossible to reach an agreement with the Palestinians without recognition of the Jewish state."

The topic of recognition has been key, as Abbas has repeatedly refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Kerry said last Thursday Israel's insistence on recognition is a "mistake."

Ya'alon accused Abbas of "going back on the Oslo trick, without recognition or promises." Abbas is set to meet US President Barack Obama on Monday in Washington DC.

Abbas "is a partner for receiving, not giving," charged Yaalon. "He is not a partner for a final agreement that would include the recognition of Israel as the national state of the Jewish people and that would end the conflict and all claims."

"He (Abbas) says it very clearly but no one seems to listen... I'm sorry to come to this conclusion, but this (deal) will not happen in my time," said Yaalon, who previously criticized Kerry's ambitions for a speedy peace deal between the sides as "messianic and obsessive."

Just last Wednesday a senior PA official close to Abbas called Israelis "an advanced instrument of evil," claiming "Allah will gather them so that we can kill them."

'No Israeli Arab terrorists to be released'

"We are committed to the release of prisoners held since before the Oslo Accords, not the release of Israeli Arab prisoners," noted Ya'alon.

104 terrorist prisoners were promised to be released in stages last July. Almost all have been released in several batches, and the final one is set for March 28, but Israeli officials have warned that it may not be carried out if the PA follows through on its threat to walk out of negotiations after April.

However, the PA has adamantly refused to extend peace talks. PA Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat reported in February that Abbas is only continuing talks in order to free the rest of the terrorists.

"What happened happened in Kerry's mediation," Yaalon said. "I don't want to go into details, it is between him and us. He knows we are not committed to the release of Israeli Arabs," he said.

'No retaking of Gaza'

Speaking about the barrage of roughly 100 rockets which peppered Israel from Gaza last week starting Wednesday, Ya'alon disagreed with the statements of Intelligence and Strategy Minister Yuval Steinitz and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman asserting Israel must retake Gaza.

"There's no solution in Gaza of 'bang' and we're done," claimed Ya'alon. "We'll do that, and what next? We need to discuss this in the cabinet with serious consideration, I don't know what conclusion we'll draw."