Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz ripped into Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas with unusual ferocity on Sunday, describing him as “the number one inciter in the world against Israel and the Jewish people” and comparing his attacks against the Jewish State to Nazi propaganda.
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On the sidelines of the conference of the Israeli-American Council taking place in Washington DC, Steinitz told reporters that “the blood spilled during the latest outbreak of violence is on Abbas’ hands.”
He not only declared that Abbas was no partner to a peace process, he refused to dismiss the possibility that the Palestinian leaders should be removed from his post altogether. “It’s a good question whether he should remain and it’s a good question how much longer we should have to suffer his incitement,” he said.
As he was touting signs of a new and improved Israel-U.S. relationship following recent tensions over the Iran deal, Steinitz also placed some of the responsibility for the recent bloodshed on the U.S. and the international community. “If they had reacted sooner against Abbas’ incitement instead of ignoring it and trying to sweep it under carpet, perhaps we would have reached a different outcome,” he said.
And in words that may reflect a new source of friction between Jerusalem and Washington in advance of the Thursday meeting in Berlin between Prime Minister Netanyahu and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Steinitz rejected talk of any “symmetry” in the causes of the violence or in its remedies.
Steinitz added that he hopes that finally “the penny will drop” in Washington and other world capitals and that Abbas would be roundly condemned for his incitement. “I expect the world to condemn, and not to just to calm things down,” he said.
At the same time, Steinitz hailed the renewed engagement between Israel and the U.S. on security matters and in his own energy portfolio. He praised Energy Secretary Ernest Muniz, who had been at the forefront of negotiating and then marketing the Iran nuclear deal, saying he was “super-intelligent.” Muniz has agreed to participate in Steinitz’ appearance on Wednesday before U.S. energy companies at the Chamber of Commerce in an effort to persuade them to expand exploration of potential Israeli oil and gas fields.