A senior Likud minister blasted Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday, calling him the “number one enemy” to the State of Israel’s existence.
Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, considered a close ally of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, responded to comments the PA leader made during the Fatah party’s congress in Ramallah on Wednesday.
Abbas told party members during the congress that the Palestinian Authority would continue in its refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and persist in the long-standing demands on Israel to abandon its historical heartland in Judea and Samaria and ethnically cleanse those areas of Jewish inhabitants. The PA leader has repeatedly refused to allow any Jewish residents to remain in those areas in any future final status agreement with Israel.
Abbas continued, saying that the PA would also withdraw any recognition of Israel per se if a Palestinian state was not founded in the near future.
“[I]f Israel does not recognize us, we will withdraw our recognition.”
On Thursday, Steinitz ripped Abbas, telling Army Radio that the PA Chairman’s comments on Wednesday were “a sad joke.”
“[Mahmoud Abbas] talks about stopping recognizing Israel — he never really recognized Israel’s right to exist and the Jewish people’s right to a state of their own,” Steinitz said.
Steinitz added that the Palestinian Authority leader, a long-time Holocaust denier, was irreconcilably opposed to Israel’s existence.
“Ideologically [Abbas] is the number one enemy of the very existence of Israel, even more than [Yasser] Arafat was,” Steinitz said, referring to the late terror chief and PA leader.
The 81-year old PA leader has consistently refused to enter into direct talks with Israel without preconditions, demanding the release of terrorists, unilateral freezes on construction in Jewish communities across Judea and Samaria, and other concessions in exchange for negotiations.
AFP contributed to this report