Israel threatens to overthrow Palestinian government

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 |  Ryan Jones

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Wednesday said the time may have arrived for regime change in the Palestinian Authority, if its current leadership continues its effort to unilaterally gain recognition for a state of "Palestine" at the United Nations.

In a draft position paper made public in the Israeli media, Lieberman said the international backlash to Israel overthrowing Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas would be intense.

Nevertheless, "removing Abbas from power would be the only option in such a scenario," argued Lieberman, noting that a "soft" response from Israel would signal that Jerusalem could not handle this new challenge posed by the Palestinians, and thereby open a floodgate of new demands.

Abbas is scheduled to address the UN General Assembly later this month and petition its members for "non-member" status, a move that would mean the de facto recognition of "Palestine" as a sovereign and independent state. Abbas says he will not return to negotiations with Israel until he has received that recognition.

Israeli leaders say Abbas' position is a violation of existing signed agreements, which stipulate that a Palestinian state will only be birthed as a result of successful bi-lateral negotiations.

"The UN bid is a flagrant violation of the Oslo agreements [that is] geared toward avoiding talks with Israel," Israeli Vice Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon told Israel Radio.

Yaalon warned that Israel retains the right to counter with its own unilateral moves.

That's precisely what Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan said Israel would do. In his own interview with Israel Radio, Erdan suggested that Israel officially annex all Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, which sit on a significant portion of the lands Abbas would be claiming as an independent state.

Fearing that the episode could put the final nail in the coffin of an already-stagnant peace process, newly reelected US President Barack Obama called Abbas on Sunday to urge him to reconsider. But Obama was denied, and Abbas insisted he would move forward with his UN bid.

A large majority of the UN General Assembly members are expected to vote in favor of the Palestinian Authority request.

The immediate short-term danger for Israel is that Abbas can then officially petition the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court against the presence of Jews in Judea, Samaria and most of Jerusalem. The rulings from those courts would then become part of future Palestinian demands, and further delegitimize the return of the Jews to their ancient lands and capital.

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