- Published on Wednesday, 08 August 2012 10:57
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has condemned a letter sent by the Palestinian Authority to the EU as "slanderous", and said that peace with Palestine remains impossible while PA President Mahmoud Abbas remains in power.
Lieberman's remarks came in a meeting with Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr on Tuesday, according to Israeli media.
The statements follow a letter sent by the PA to the EU on July 24th, in which the PA urged the EU to reassess its relationship with Israel.
The letter, sent to coincide with the yearly EU-Israel Association Council meeting, called on the EU not to upgrade its relationship with Israel in any "official or practical" way, nor to give it any preferential treatment.
Lieberman said that the letter accused Israel of destroying Palestinian property in the Israeli-controlled Area C of the West Bank, settler violence, and stealing and exploiting natural resources.
Other accusations in the letter included that Israel has been changing the demographic make up of Jerusalem, and made extensive use of administrative detention and "extrajudicial killings and torture".
Lieberman's statement also complained that the PA's letter came despite Israel having "gone to considerable lengths to improve the relationship with the Palestinians".
Lieberman cited steps that Israel had taken such as a decision taken on July 14th to provide 5,000 more permits for Palestinian workers, an NIS 180million advance to the PA so that they could pay salaries before Ramadan, the authorisation of infrastructure projects in Area C, and the removal of some West Bank road blocks.
Lieberman's complaints come as Abbas has reiterated the PA's determination to seek status as a observer, non-member state at the UN General Assembly.
At a ceremony to honour Nablus district high school graduates at Al-Najah National University on Tuesday, Abbas said, "Even if this step conflicts with other parties' interests, we will not step back."
He added, "The only choice we have is to go to the UN with a united Arab stance."
Diplomatic sources have said that Israel wants to counter the Palestinian narrative that stalled negotiations with the Israelis have left them with no choice but to go the UN.
An Israeli government official told the Jerusalem Post, "The whole Palestinian position is that they are going to the UN because things are going nowhere.
"We want to make clear that the reason the peace process has stalled is because the Palestinians have refused to engage."