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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

UN official : Lieberman remarks 'deeply troubling'

Published yesterday (updated) 25/10/2011 10:02
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Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman gestures as he speaks during an
Yisrael Beiteinu party meeting ahead of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year,
in Jerusalem on Sept. 26. (Reuters/Ronen Zvulun)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's remarks Monday calling for President Mahmoud Abbas' resignation were "deeply troubling," said UN spokesman Richard Miron.

Miron, spokesman for UN special envoy for the peace process Robert Serry, told Ma'an that Lieberman's statement "appears to be an attempt to delegitimize President Abbas."

Lieberman told reporters in Jerusalem that Abbas' resignation would be a "blessing," and that the president was the "greatest obstacle" to peace in the region.

"Anyone who succeeds him would be better for Israel. If Abu Mazen goes, there would be a chance to reignite the peace process," Lieberman added, using the president's nom-de-guerre.

Miron criticized Lieberman's "inflammatory remarks," adding that such statements "undermine trust at a time when the Quartet is working towards the resumption of negotiations."

Lieberman has frequently criticized the president in the past, and according to leaked US government cables the far-right minister suggested in 2006 that Mohammad Rashid should replace Abbas as president.

Rashid, an advisor to late President Yassar Arafat, shares a close business associate with Lieberman in the Austrian millionaire Martin Sclaff.

Meanwhile, Lieberman is facing the prospect of being indicted for corruption in Israel over a range of graft allegations including "fraud, breach of trust, receiving something by deception, money-laundering and tampering with a witness," a statement from the Israeli attorney-general said in April.

The Moldovan-born foreign minister has frequently found himself in the headlines for his sometimes undiplomatic language, but is the most powerful partner in Netanyahu's conservative coalition government.

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