Israel’s foreign ministry has proposed in a policy paper “toppling” Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas if a Palestinian bid for state observer status at the United Nations is approved later this month.
“Toppling Abu Mazen’s (Abbas’s) regime would be the only option in this case,” the position paper obtained by AFP says. “Any other option… would mean waving a white flag and admitting the failure of the Israeli leadership to deal with the challenge.”
The position paper is a draft document that is expected to be endorsed by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who would then present it to the Israeli officials charged with formulating Israel’s response to the Palestinian bid.
Lieberman has already reportedly expressed his view that Abbas’s Palestinian Authority should be dismantled if the UN bid succeeds.
The Palestinians are scheduled to present their bid for state observer status at the General Assembly on November 29, where they are expected to easily win approval, despite opposition from the United States and Israel.
The bid comes slightly more than a year after the Palestinians sought full UN membership at the Security Council, a request that stalled there because of opposition from the United States, a permanent member and veto-holder.
The ministry paper warns that Israel “must extract a high price from Abu Mazen,” and that receiving state status at the UN “would be considered a crossing of a red line.”
Israel’s Channel 10 reported on November 5 that Lieberman had backed the dismantling of the Palestinian Authority, in comments to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
“If the Palestinians pursue their project at the UN, they are definitively destroying the chances of peace talks,” the station quoted Lieberman as saying on October 24.
“If they persist with this project, I will ensure that the Palestinian Authority collapses.”
A senior Israeli official told AFP on Wednesday that Israel is also considering annulling part or all of the 1993 Oslo Accords on Palestinian autonomy in response to the UN bid.
“The claim is that the Palestinians’ appeal to the UN is such a fundamental breach of the Oslo Accords that it nullifies them. And if they are nullified, we are not committed to them either,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
The 1993 Oslo Accords were intended to pave the way for a full resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and led to the creation of the Palestinian Authority, which was to govern parts of the occupied West Bank and Gaza until a final agreement.
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat scoffed at Israel’s warnings.
“The Israeli threats are like a broken record. We heard that at the time of (veteran Palestinian leader Yasser) Arafat and now under Abu Mazen,” he said on Israeli army radio.
“Even if the Palestinians had a Mother Teresa as president, Thomas Jefferson as parliament speaker and Montesquieu as premier, there would still be a Lieberman to say these are not partners and that they must be killed,” he said.
As for scrapping the Oslo Accords, he said that Israel had already made good on its threats.
Israel and Washington fiercely oppose any Palestinian action at the United Nations, and US President Barack Obama called Abbas earlier this week to reiterate his opposition.
But the Palestinians have confirmed they will push ahead with the plan, saying that enhanced UN status does not contradict peace efforts, and pointing out that direct talks have been on hold since late September 2010.
Israel calls the bid “unilateral” and is reportedly also weighing suspending the transfer of tax and tariff funds it collects for the Palestinians and cutting permits for Palestinian workers in Israel in response.
Palestinians held rallies across the West Bank on Wednesday, a day before the 24th anniversary of the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s declaration of independence, carrying banners supporting the UN non-state membership bid.