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Lieberman: Abbas’s Corrupt Reign Main Bar to West Bank Development

Israeli defense minister says dozens of Palestinian politicians and businessmen have told him the president must go.

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has recently attacked the Palestinian Authority over what he terms the “reign of corruption” of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. This corruption, Lieberman says, is the main obstacle to improving the Palestinian economy in the West Bank.
Two weeks ago, at a briefing for military reporters, Lieberman unveiled his “carrot and stick” policy for the West Bank, which includes punishing communities whose residents have attempted or carried out terror attacks while rewarding towns where quiet prevails. At that briefing, he also said he planned to hold direct discussions with Palestinian businessmen and politicians, cutting out “the middleman,” Abbas.
The defense minister views Abbas as a bitter enemy of Israel and says that Abbas’s policies have eliminated any possibility of advancing the peace process.
In the past two weeks, Lieberman has said several times that defense officials meet frequently with West Bank Palestinians, without the involvement or approval of Abbas and his people.
“We’ve met dozens of economists and businessmen from the Palestinian Authority, and when you ask what’s most important for the Palestinian economy, they all reply that the most important thing is to get rid of Abu Mazen,” he said on one such occasion, referring to Abbas by his nickname. “He has imposed a reign of corruption that encompasses everything. He has people in every economic sector — in real estate, the fuel market, the communications market. Abbas’ people take a tithe from every deal, and aside from the people in the inner circle, the PA leadership doesn’t allow anyone there to develop economically.
“That’s why it’s so important for him to go,” Lieberman continued. “As long as Abbas is there, nothing will happen.”
Lieberman said he didn’t think Israel should actively work to end Abbas’ rule, but at the same time, he said, it shouldn’t blame itself for the situation in the West Bank.
“Not everything depends on us,” he said. “As long as the PA’s corrupt and ineffective management continues, the economic situation there won’t improve.”
The defense minister also charged that Abbas rarely visits Nablus and Jenin, the major cities of the northern West Bank, as he prefers to take diplomatic trips abroad. “He doesn’t want to deal with problems of economics and employment,” Lieberman said. “The entire system of management there has failed.”
Last week, Arab media outlets reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin was trying to arrange a diplomatic summit between Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later this year. Netanyahu doesn’t use Lieberman’s blunt language, but he apparently shares the defense minister’s skepticism about the prospects for real diplomatic progress as long as Abbas remains in power. And, like Lieberman, he blames the impasse entirely on the Palestinians.

Amos Harel

Haaretz Correspondent

read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.739477



Video of the Week New Clashes Erupt Between Israeli Security Forces, Muslim Worshippers

Temple Mount temporarily closed to Jewish visitors after clashes with police

The Temple Mount was temporarily closed to Jewish visitors on Wednesday at the order of Jerusalem District Commander Yoram Halevy after Jews broke visitation rules at the holy site, police said. The Jewish visitors were expelled from the compound for bringing sacred books to the Mount and trying to pray there. After one of the individuals was cautioned, another took out a holy book, and the group was expelled. Meanwhile, renewed clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli security forces near the Lion's Gate in the Old City, where police used stun grenades against the demonstrators. A regular dynamic has developed involving clashes between Palestinians and Israel Police over the past several days near the Lion's Gate. Dozens of Palestinians are present at the site on a regular basis, urging devotion to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and condemning Israel. During Muslim prayer times, particularly the midday and nighttime prayers, hundreds and sometimes even thousands have been gathering there.

There have been outbreaks of violence during these periods, including stone-throwing or physical confrontations with the police. In most of these incidents, the police have been using stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets to disperse the crowds. In a number of cases, journalists in the area have also suffered violence at the hands of the police. On Tuesday, Hassan Shaalan, a reporter for the Ynet news website, was struck by a policeman even after he identified himself as a member of the press. A group of Jerusalem-based journalists released a statement of condemnation over the incident and called on the police to permit reporters to do their jobs. The Jerusalem Police responded: "This involved an incident that took place in the course of violent disturbances of the peace that occurred in Jerusalem while the police were acting to remove the demonstrators from the street after some of them refused to vacate. The forces working on the scene are under constant threat to their lives. http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.802141

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