What are Lieberman’s plans for Palestinian leadership?

25 May

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Israeli’s newly-appointed Defense Minister, ultra-nationalist Avigdor Lieberman

Middle East Monitor report, 24 May 2016

Right-wing Israeli politician Avigdor Lieberman will endeavour to create the appropriate conditions for the return of his friend, former Fatah leader Mohammad Dahlan, as head of the Palestinian Authority, Israeli media sources have said.

Channel 10’s Arab affairs commentator, Zvi Yehezkeli, said there are reasons “to justify the rise in Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ blood pressure. He is well aware of the special relationship between his mortal enemy Dahlan and the new defence minister in Israel.”

In a report aired by the channel on Sunday, Yehezkeli pointed out that Lieberman “greatly improves Dahlan’s prospects of returning to the internal Palestinian arena. Credit for bolstering the relationship between the two men goes to the role played by their mutual friend, billionaire Swiss Jewish businessman Martin Schlaff.”

He explained that what improves Dahlan’s chances is the special relationship he has with Egyptian President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi in addition to his position as adviser to the ruler of the United Arab Emirates. Lieberman has openly expressed his plan to get rid of Hamas’ rule in the Gaza Strip. He is also interested in imposing an international mandate over the Strip before handing it over to a Palestinian or Arab party.

In an article published by Haaretz, former Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Arens called for seeking Egypt’s assistance in finding an Arab or Palestinian party to take charge of matters in the Gaza Strip once Hamas is toppled.

Lieberman’s bet on Dahlan is in contrast with the general assessment agreed upon by the security institution within Israel who believe Abbas could only be replaced by a personality that is “radical and with extremist plans”. They said this is due to the Palestinian people’s disappointment in the results of the negotiations and due to the rise in support for resistance operations against Israel.

Walla website recently quoted the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, General Yoav Mordechai, as saying that any leadership to succeed Abbas “will be an extremist leadership.”

Major General Gadi Shamni, the former commander of the Central Region within the Israeli army, agreed. He told Channel 1 that the idea that Abbas would be succeeded by a “moderate” personality is not consistent with reality.

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