Israel calls for elections to replace Palestinian leader

By IANS/RIA Novosti,

Tel Aviv : Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has called on the Middle East Quartet to press for new elections in Palestine to remove incumbent Palestinian National Authority (PNA) leader Mahmoud Abbas from power.

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In a letter to senior officials of the Middle East Quartet members – EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov – the Israeli minister described Abbas as “an obstacle to peace”, the Haaretz daily reported.

In the past years, Lieberman has been conducting a campaign to delegitimise the PNA leader, who had refused to return to the negotiating table unless Israel stops its settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

“The Palestinian Authority is a despotic government riddled with corruption,” he said.

“This pattern of behaviour has led to criticism even within his own constituency. Due to Abbas’ weak standing and his policy of not renewing the (peace) negotiations, which is an obstacle to peace, the time has come to consider a creative solution, to think ‘outside the box’, in order to strengthen the Palestinian leadership.”

The “creative solution” that Lieberman suggests is holding general elections in the Palestinian Authority.

The elections, which were originally due to take place in 2010, have been postponed several times and a new date has not yet been set.

“Despite Mr. Abbas’ delays, general elections in the PA should be held, and a new, legitimate, hopefully realistic Palestinian leadership should be elected,” Lieberman said.

Abbas has repeatedly stated that he would not seek re-election to the post.