Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas is waging “diplomatic terror” against Israel, which is as dangerous as the violent threat posed by Hamas, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Thursday.
It was his second personal attack on the Palestinian president in days and came after he called for world powers to force elections in the Palestinian Authority in a bid to replace him and revive the stagnant peace process.
Speaking to Israeli public radio, Lieberman accused the Palestinians of using two forms of “terror” to attack Israel, with Hamas managing the armed version, and Abbas — or Abu Mazen as he is commonly known — taking the diplomatic track.
“There is a division of labour between (Hamas premier Ismail) Haniya and Abu Mazen,” he said.
“Haniya and (exiled Hamas chief) Khaled Meshaal are leading armed terrorism, Abu Mazen leads diplomatic terrorism and I’m not sure which is more dangerous to us.”
Lieberman, who head the ultranationalist Yisrael Beitenu party, accused Abbas of leading “a campaign of incitement against Israel in the international arena.
“He calls Israel an apartheid state… accuses us of war crimes, initiates various investigations against us in the (UN) Human Rights Council,” he said.
On Tuesday, Lieberman sent a letter to the Middle East peacemaking Quartet in which he said Abbas “apparently is uninterested or unable… to reach an agreement which would bring an end to the conflict.”
“General elections in the PA should be held, and a new, legitimate, hopefully realistic Palestinian leadership should be elected,” he wrote, sparking an angry response from Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina, who described it as “inflammatory.”
Direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians began in September 2010 but ran aground several weeks later over an intractable dispute about settlement building.