Yisrael Beytenu chairperson Avigdor Liberman, a former ally of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu who even ran on a joint "Likud-Beytenu" list with him in the 2013 elections, on Thursday accused Netanyahu of holding secret talks with the Palestinian Authority (PA).
In an interview with Yedioth Aharonoth, Liberman said Netanyahu has been holding covert negotiations with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, and is hiding the talks from the Cabinet.
"There are several strange signs on the ground that I interpret as an attempt by the Prime Minister to exclude the Cabinet from a diplomatic negotiation with Abbas," said Liberman.
"Suddenly two weeks ago we saw that the Prime Minister is ready to free up his whole schedule for a meeting with Abbas. We see how in a miraculous manner all the argument between the Israel Electric Corporation and the Palestinian Authority on the debts was solved, and suddenly all the power cuts disappeared."
Liberman alleged that the central Palestinian demand is to end all IDF activity in Area A, regions of Judea and Samaria designated as being under PA security and administrative management in the 1994 Oslo Accords but where terrorism has forced the IDF to be active.
Strengthening his claim is the fact that in covert talks between IDF and PA security sources – which a month ago were exposed to be taking place without the knowledge of the Cabinet – the PA is demanding a total withdrawal of IDF forces from all Arab cities in Judea and Samaria.
"There is a negotiation on the meeting itself, I estimate between Netanyahu and Abbas, and there apparently are all sorts of documents being passed between the two sides, from one side the Palestinian demands from Israel and from the other side all sorts of Israeli promises," said Liberman.
"Truth will out at the UN"
The MK and former Foreign Minister linked the alleged secret talks with Abbas to the covert negotiations Netanyahu apparently held with Opposition chair MK Yitzhak Herzog about bringing his Zionist Union party into the government, in talks that collapsed over Herzog's corruption investigation.
"Netanyahu was building on Herzog bringing it as his dowry in the entry to the coalition," he said, indicating Netanyahu planned on receiving support from Herzog for the Abbas talks. "The project of establishing a coalition ended, it's over for now, and therefore it isn't clear how Netanyahu will maneuver in the coming days."
Liberman estimated that at Abbas' upcoming visit to UN headquarters in New York it will become clear whether or not secret talks with Netanyahu are in fact being held, and what their results are.
"Then we will be able to know if they reached all sorts of understandings or if Netanyahu, because of an inability to form the coalition, backed away from all the promises and the diplomatic negotiation."
Condemning Netanyahu for the alleged talks, he said, "it isn't good in terms of the message of the state of Israel. On one hand Netanyahu accuses Abbas of being the lead inciter, and on the other he is ready to clear his schedule to meet with him."
"That is a confused and contradictory message and it isn't convincing, not for the international community and not for citizens of Israel," he said.
"Beyond that, from the start these are Israeli concessions being discussed as always. We haven't seen demands from Abbas to condemn attacks against citizens of Israel for example – Abbas to this day backs all the terror activities, and therefore it is hard for me to find something positive for us in the contacts that apparently are taking place now."