September 30, 2012 - 12:00am

Defense Minister Ehud Barak harshly criticized Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman over the weekend, for naming Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as “the biggest obstacle to peace.”

“Lieberman’s comments about the Palestinian Authority and its president do not represent Israeli policy, and harm Israeli interests,” read a statement from Barak’s office.

During closed-forum discussions over the weekend, Barak said: “If Lieberman’s dream were to be realized, Abu Mazen (Abbas) and Salam Fayyad would not be in control in the West Bank, leaving Hamas to assume power.”

“Israel still maintains basic interests in ensuring security in the West Bank, which is currently in a very good state, compared to the past," Barak continued.

This is primarily due to the effectiveness of efforts by the Israel Defense Forces and Shin Bet, but also as a result of actions taken by Palestinian Authority security forces, and the economic efforts of Fayyad and Abu Mazen.”

Barak’s comments follow Lieberman’s reaction to a speech made by Abbas on Thursday at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Lieberman characterized Abbas as “the biggest obstacle to peace."

"Everyone who heard Abbas’ speech understands that he does not intend, and does not want, to be a partner in a peace agreement," Lieberman said while in a meeting in New York with the foreign ministers of France, Spain, Russia and others.

His comments are part of a campaign he has been waging against the Palestinian president – for months he has been calling for Abbas' ouster.

Lieberman also commented on Abbas’ speech in an interview with Haaretz. "His speech was more than a spit in the face," Lieberman said. "The second time we transferred him (Abbas) a down payment that would allow him to pay the PA workers' salaries, he didn't even say a single word of thanks. I told the French foreign minister all the things we did [to help the PA] in recent months, and he wasn't aware of all this. Everyone has woken up."

When asked what would happen if Abbas resigned, Lieberman added, "I wish."


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017