Israeli minister: Cut ties with Palestinians

AP News
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Posted: Aug 07, 2011 2:28 PM
Israeli minister: Cut ties with Palestinians

Israel's foreign minister on Sunday accused the Palestinian Authority of planning "unprecedented bloodshed" next month after an expected symbolic U.N. endorsement of Palestinian independence.

Accenting his warning, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman called for Israel to sever ties with the West Bank-based government.

Lieberman's allegation runs counter to other Israeli assessments and stands in stark contrast to public and private statements by the Palestinians.

"They say they don't want violence, but the Palestinian Authority is planning unprecedented bloodshed," his spokesman Tzachi Moshe quoted Lieberman as saying.

"They are going to send waves of people to storm roadblocks," Lieberman said, according to his spokesman. "Israel should cut all ties with them."

Palestinian spokesman Ghassan Khatib denied the Palestinians were preparing for violence. "These Israeli predictions of violence aren't true. Israel is trying to fuel a fake picture of what will happen in September."

"In September, we will request the international community's help _ legally and according to law _ from the U.N. to help us end the illegal occupation. What is illegal here is the occupation, not the attempts to end it," Khatib said.

Lieberman did not provide evidence for his claim that Palestinians were getting ready for violent demonstrations. Moshe said Lieberman drew his conclusions from intelligence reports and public statements by Palestinian officials.

He said the foreign minister would ask the government to cut ties with the Palestinian Authority when the Cabinet convenes again next Sunday.

With peace talks stalled since 2008, the Palestinians have said they will instead ask the U.N. to recognize their state in September. Israel and the United States strongly oppose the move, saying Palestinian statehood should be achieved through negotiations.

One Israeli fear is that Palestinians will re-enact scenes from June, when some 20 protesters were killed after thousands rushed Israel's border from Syria.

On Sunday, Lieberman said the Palestinians were planning to have tens of thousands of protesters storm Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank, an act that would likely end with violence.

An internal Israeli parliamentary report released last week predicted a low likelihood of violence erupting, because the Palestinians believe it would be counterproductive to their cause. The report, which was based on intelligence reports, said mass peaceful demonstrations were likely instead.

However, defense officials fear a lone violent event could touch off more widespread clashes. In anticipation, the report recommended calling up some military reserve units.

West Bank Hamas leader Hassan Youssef told Israel's Channel 2 TV Sunday that Palestinians are planning marches and demonstrations in September. Asked if they could turn violent, he warned of increasing frustrations.

"If their backs are to the wall, the Palestinian people can erupt at any moment," he said. Youssef was released from an Israeli prison last week after serving six years. Hamas is a rival to the Palestinian Authority.