Netanyahu: No PA partner for peace, PM's partner is virtual
Ex-Shin Bet deputy chief and coalition MK Yisrael Hasson dismisses Annapolis summit as a fantasy.
Opposition chairman Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that Israel has no partner for a real peace with the Palestinians, dismissing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's diplomatic efforts as "making peace with a virtual partner, in a virtual reality."
"We have a partner for words, but not for deeds, certainly not for fighting terrorism, and, to my regret, no partner for a real peace," the Likud leader told Israel Radio.
According to Netanyahu, there is no basis for Olmert's statements that Israel has a peacemaking partner in Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, and that Abbas is committed to curbing terrorists in his midst.
"Not only are they not fighting Hamas, Abu Mazen [Abbas] is incapable even of taking control of Fatah, his own people, who tried to assassinate the prime minister of Israel a few months ago."
He warned against ceding additional territory to Palestinian control, saying the Palestinians are incapable of containing expansion of Hamas control. "Hamas, under the sponsorship of Iran, will enter any area that we evacuate," Netanyahu said. "Olmert is making peace with a virtual partner, in a virtual reality."
Coalition MK blasts AnnapolisCoalition MK Yisrael Hasson, a former deputy chief of the Shin Bet security service, has lashed out at Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's talks with the Palestinians, terming the upcoming Annapolis conference "a fantasy, not a vision."
Hasson, of the rightist Yisrael Beiteinu faction, punned that the conference should be called Anopheles, the mosquito that carries malaria, because it "bears all the signs of malaria: delusions, tremors and a high fever."
Speaking off the record, lawmakers of Olmert's Kadima party have complained that Olmert was dragging the party too far to the left.
Yisrael Beiteinu's chairman, Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman, warned Monday that the party will stick to its red lines, which bar any discussion of the "core issues" - borders, Jerusalem and the refugees - at the conference. However, the party has not yet threatened to quit the coalition, and senior Kadima officials said that this is because Olmert has reassured Lieberman on this point.
Shas, for its part, is taking comfort from Olmert's statement that Annapolis is merely the beginning of the process, not its end. Party Chairman and Industry Minister Eli Yishai said that Shas does not view the Palestinian Authority as a peace partner until its ability to control the territory and fulfill its obligations has been proven, and such proof should precede any progress in the talks.
Likud, in contrast, is urging Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu to quit the coalition immediately. Speaking at Monday's Likud faction meeting, party chairman Benjamin Netanyahu said that Olmert and his senior coalition partner, Labor Party Chairman Ehud Barak, have both already proven themselves incapable of reading reality, and they now seem poised to repeat their misguided concessions of the past.
MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud) urged Kadima MKs, many of whom are former Likudniks, to challenge Olmert as well.