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Israel asks for ouster of Abbas

By Ian Deitch

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 22 2012 11:05 p.m. MDT

FILE - In this Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011 file photo, Israel's Foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman attends a media briefing at the ned of an EU-Israel Association Council at the European Council building in Brussels. Lieberman sent a letter to international Mideast peace mediators calling Abbas an "obstacle to peace." He wants them to push for Palestinian elections to choose a new leader. (AP Photo/Yves Logghe, File)

Associated Press

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JERUSALEM — Israel's foreign minister urged the international community to help oust Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas whose policies he called "an obstacle to peace" in a letter released Wednesday.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman wrote to the Quartet of Mideast mediators — the U.S., the U.N., the EU and Russia — this week calling for new elections in the Palestinian Authority in order to replace Abbas, accusing the Palestinian Authority of being "a despotic government riddled with corruption."

"Despite Mr. Abbas' delays, general elections in the Palestinian Authority should be held and a new, legitimate, hopefully realistic leadership should be elected" he wrote. "Only such a leadership can bring progress with Israel. We must maximize the holding of new elections in the PA alongside the tremendous changes in the Arab world, in order to bring a serious change between Israel and the Palestinians."

Abbas' spokesman, Nabil Abu Rdeneh, rejected Lieberman's statement, calling it an "incitement to violence" that "doesn't contribute in any way to an atmosphere of peace." He urged Israel and the international community to condemn the letter.

Elections for new Palestinian leadership were scheduled for 2010, but have repeatedly been delayed because of the bitter dispute between Abbas' Fatah and the militant Hamas, bitter rivals who had a violent falling out in 2007 and now separately govern the West Bank and Gaza Strip respectively.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also sought to quickly disassociate himself from the letter.

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