Lieberman - Fattal - July 20, 2011
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman during a press conference, July 20, 2011. Photo by Michal Fattal
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Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Saturday that a statement made by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas earlier in the day that the Palestinians would not agree to recognize a Jewish state revealed the true nature of the Palestinian move for recognition of statehood in September.

'The real intention of the Palestinians is not to establish a state that will live in peace alongside Israel but rather the establishment of a state free of Jews in [the West Bank] and the hostile takeover of Israel from within," Lieberman said.

"This is also the reason that Abbas and his colleagues are not interested in negotiating with Israel but rather in taking unilateral steps to complete this move," Lieberman continued. "The world must make it clear to Abbas that the only way the Palestinians can receive a state is when they stop trying to eliminate the world's only Jewish state."

On Friday, a U.S. official said that the United States will stop all financial aid to the Palestinian Authority if it proceeds with plans to ask the United Nations for recognition of an independent state in September.

On Saturday, Abbas said that the Palestinians are already facing financial sanctions even before going to the UN.

"We might be punished with further financial sanctions," said Abbas, speaking at a gathering of Muslim religious officials in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

"We do not want to starve our people or make life difficult for them. But what else can we do. We cannot just give up. We are already facing financial sanctions, which we hope will be lifted," he said.

Abbas was referring to the financial crisis the Palestinian Authority is currently facing, which forced it to delay payment of salaries to more than 150,000 public service employees. It currently needs at least 300 million dollars.

"Our decision to go to the Security Council does not aim to isolate Israel, nor to confront the United States, rather to achieve our dream of recognition of our sovereign Palestinian state on the territories occupied since 1967, which is only 22 per cent of the area of historic Palestine," he said.

Abbas said that neither Israel, nor the U.S., have offered anything to salvage negotiations and the peace process.

"[They] offered us absolutely nothing that would allow us to resume negotiations," he said. "All they offered was more settlements and Judization, day after day. So when we felt that the road of reasonable, acceptable and legitimate negotiations is close, we said we are going to the UN."

Abbas said that going to the UN does not mean an end to negotiations rather it would enhance negotiations by confirming their terms of reference.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said on Saturday that a real solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict could only be achieved through negotiations.

Ashton was speaking ahead of talks with Palestinian officials and, later, with Israeli leaders.