Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Abbas Urged Israel to Topple Hamas in Cast Lead, Says Lieberman
Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas urged Israel to topple the Hamas government in Gaza during the Operation Cast Lead campaign last year, according to Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
A former close aide to former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert confirmed Lieberman’s claim, which was rejected by Abbas aide Nabil Abu Rdainah, who told Reuters, “This is not true. It is a continuation of the campaign of defamation ... to create an atmosphere that would destroy any chance of salvaging the peace process.” Although Lieberman was not a member of the Olmert government during Cast Lead, the former Olmert official confirmed to Reuters that his account was "essentially accurate."
Lieberman accused Abbas of duping Israel by asking the government to topple Hamas and then alleging that Israel was guilty of ”war crimes” in the three-week counterterrorist campaign. "A month after the operation ended, he filed a complaint against us with the International Court of Justice at The Hague for war crimes. Is that a partner?" Lieberman asked in an interview with a Hebrew-language newspaper.
Hamas previously has criticized Abbas for not being more vocal against Cast Lead and for not initially backing the Goldstone Report alleging Israel with committing war crimes. Lieberman’s comments “reaffirm the fact that Mahmoud Abbas is no longer fit to represent our people,” said Hamas spokesman Sami abu Zuhri. He charged that Abbas “conspired against his people during a war.”