JERUSALEM - Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas is waging a form of “diplomatic terror” against Israel that is as dangerous as the violent threat posed by Hamas, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Thursday.

It was his second personal attack on Abbas in as many days and came after he called for world powers to force Palestinian elections in a bid to replace him.

Speaking to Israeli public radio, Lieberman accused the Palestinians of using two forms of “terror” to attack Israel, with Hamas which rules Gaza managing the armed version and Abbas taking the diplomatic track.

“There is a division of labour between (Hamas premier Ismail) Haniya and Abu Mazen,” he said, using the alias of the Palestinian president.

“Haniya and (exiled Hamas chief) Khaled Meshaal are leading armed terrorism, Abu Mazen leads diplomatic terrorism and I’m not sure which is more dangerous to us.” Lieberman, who heads the ultranationalist Yisrael Beitenu party, accused Abbas of leading “a campaign of incitement against Israel in the international arena. “He calls Israel an apartheid state... accuses us of war crimes, initiates various investigations against us in the (UN) Human Rights Council,” the foreign minister said.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat reacted angrily, saying Lieberman was “continuing in his rudeness and incitement without the Israeli government taking any measures against him and his statements.”

“The whole world condemned those declarations, and we were officially informed by the Israeli government that it and its premier were are not related to the letter and don’t share his point of view,” he told AFP.

In a letter to the Middle East peacemaking Quartet published on Wednesday, Lieberman said Abbas was “uninterested or unable” to reach a peace arrangement with Israel, calling for elections to oust Abbas.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office rushed to distance itself from any attempt to dictate the Palestinians’ electoral timetable.

An Israeli official told AFP that Lieberman’s letter “does not represent the opinion of the prime minister or the government ... and of course Israel will not interfere in internal Palestinian politics.”

Direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians began in September 2010 but ran aground just weeks later over a dispute about Jewish settlement building on Palestinian land.