Israel's Lieberman wants Palestinian elections to replace Abbas
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has urged a new election in the Palestinian Authority to replace President Mahmoud Abbas, saying the Palestinian leader was "undermining" attempts to renew peace talks, DPA reported.
The call was made in a letter Lieberman sent Monday to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, Tzachi Moshe, a spokesman for the minister, confirmed Wednesday.
"The time has come to consider a creative solution, to think 'outside the box,' in order to strengthen the Palestinian leadership," Lieberman wrote in the letter, which was published in the Ha'aretz newspaper.
"General elections in the PA (Palestinian Authority) should be held, and a new, legitimate, hopefully realistic Palestinian leadership should be elected," Lieberman said in the letter.
Abbas' spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said the letter amounted to "incitement to kill and violence."
In a statement published by the official Palestinian WAFA news agency, he called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to take a clear position on Lieberman's remarks.
A senior official in Netanyahu's office, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told dpa that Lieberman's letter did not "reflect the position of the prime minister, or of the government as a whole."
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said that the US has "a good working relationship" with Abbas. "And so we expect to be able to continue to work well with him," she said.
Nuland said that Netanyahu "has now clarified the position of the Israeli government."
Peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians have been stalled for almost two years. Talks in January in Jordan failed to revive the process.
Abbas has conditioned renewing peace talks to Israel halting settlement construction in the West Bank.
Lieberman, who heads the far-right Yisrael Beytenu party, is outspokenly sceptical about the peace process. He has been campaigning against Abbas for months, but his position has not been officially endorsed by the Israeli government.