As Quartet Tries to Renew Israel-Palestinian Talks, Lieberman Steps Up Attack on Abbas

Foreign Minister's office sends letter to ambassador claiming Abbas is main obstacle to the peace process; Quartet representatives hold meetings in Jerusalem and Ramallah.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's office released on Wednesday a document to dozens of foreign embassies, saying Palestinian President is the main obstacle to the peace process. The release of the document comes as the Quartet representatives are holding talks in Jerusalem and in Ramallah in an effort to renew negotiations.

On Monday, Lieberman called Abbas the "greatest obstacle" to regional order, telling reporters in Jerusalem it would be a "blessing" if the Palestinian leader were to resign.

Emil Salman

The document was sent to all 27 European Union ambassadors in Israel and to ambassadors from the U.S., Russia, China, India, Japan, Colombia and Quartet envoy Tony Blair. It lists the positive steps Australia, Canada and Israel have taken toward the Palestinians during Benjamin Netanyahu's term, and contrasts them with the negative actions taken by the Palestinians during that time. The document ends with harsh criticism of Abbas.

"It is obvious today that (Abbas) is driven mainly by his concern for his historical legacy and personal welfare," the document states. "In light of what happened to his close colleagues – the former presidents of Tunisia and Egypt – (Abbas) is looking for a dignified exit from the political arena."

The document also stresses that Abbas has hardened his stance on the core issues of the final peace agreement, even more so than his predecessor Yasser Arafat. "His positions are not to seek compromise but to incite friction and conflict with Israel," it states. "The unavoidable conclusion is that there will be no agreement as long as (Abbas) is the leader of the Palestinian Authority, especially given the fact that he is sacrificing Palestinian interests for his own personal future."

The Foreign Ministry distributed the document without co-ordining with the relevant departments, who found out about it only when they were asked to pass it on to foreign embassies. Many foreign ambassadors called the Foreign Ministry asking if the document represent's the official position of the ministry or of the state of Israel. "We didn’t know what to respond," said a foreign ministry official.