Minister Yuval Steinitz
Minister Yuval SteinitzChen Galili

Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz spoke at a Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) ceremony Wednesday, where he reflected on the US-Israel relationship, the intentions of Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, and the waning possibility of reaching a peace deal. 

Steinitz sharply criticized statements made by Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon earlier this month, who called US Secretary of State John Kerry "obsessive" and "messianic" in his quest for peace in the Middle East.  

"There is room for criticism and disagreements - but not hurling personal insults," Steinitz opined. "If it happened - and it does happen that things which are said in a closed room leak to the media - something this serious requires a clear, immediate, and serious apology."

"There's no point and no reason to throw insults about those who are our friends and greatest allies," he added. 

Nevertheless, regarding peace talks between Israel and the PA, Steinitz remained pessimistic. 

"I want to tell the truth: Gentlemen, there is no peace process, there is a political process," the minister stated. "It is important, it has a certain chance [for success], but unfortunately, we do not even see faint signs that the Palestinian leadership has peaceful and genuine intentions."

"You have to admit that Abbas does not support violence [outright] like his predecessor Arafat, but the level of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel incitement has reached new heights," he continued. "The subtext of what Palestinian children receive in Abbas's schools and through children's [TV] programs is very clear: we [the PA] have to destroy Israel sooner or later, and destroy the Jews sooner or later."

On numerous occasions, including earlier this month, senior PA officials have explicitly said that any US-brokered deal would be just "the first stage" in Israel's destruction.

Turning to the ideological underpinnings of rampant anti-Semitism - including the glorification of Nazism - within the Palestinian Authority, Steinitz maintained that the fault lies in Abbas's background and ideology. "Abbas did not finance and encourage terrorist actions against us," he stated, "but ideologically, he was a Holocaust denier in his youth, he denies the very existence of the Jewish people and the right to a Jewish state."

"After Ahmadinejad's decline, there is no doubt that Abbas is entitled to the title of the number one anti-Semitic leader in the world," he continued. "Abbas's messages are utter double-talk - empty messages in English and anti-Israel and anti-Semitic propaganda to Palestinian children."

"We see in the wake of negotiations that there has been escalation in the sharpness and intensity of messages of incitement in the PA," he added.  

"We will not accept Abbas's version of peace," Steinitz continued. "The minimum requirement is a recognition of the Jewish state, to recognize Israel's right to exist [. . .] we recognized the Palestinian people, Abbas must recognize our right to a Jewish and democratic state."

"These are serious words, but we have to look reality in the face," Steinitz continued. "The reality is that in the entire world, there is no leader who incites on posts to his website and on his TV channel against the Jews, as a religion. No other leader gets so close to treating the Jews as in pre-Holocaust Europe as Abbas does."