Liberman hits EU support for unilateral PA moves then jabs Netanyahu for not presenting initiative

Livni: US will veto Palestinian resolution in current form.

December 16, 2014 11:07
3 minute read.
Liberman Netanyahu

Avigdor Liberman and Benjamin Netanyahu. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman on Tuesday slammed European countries for backing unilateral Palestinian steps, while at the same time expressing lightly veiled criticism of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by saying Israel needs to go on the diplomatic offensive.

Liberman, widely seen as trying to position himself in the political center, and a seasoned politician who has not ruled out the possibility of joining a coalition led by Labor’s Isaac Herzog and Hatnua’s Tzipi Livni, issued a statement that said Israel would not accept diktats from the Palestinians regarding their bid for a Palestinian state.

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“European countries that cooperate with the Palestinians in these steps can be likened to a person who brings a match to someone else holding flammable material,” he said. “They are not helping anyone, and are only acting out of their own political and domestic interests.”

He pointed out that the deleterious consequences of these actions will take place in the Middle East.

Liberman said that Palestinian unilateral steps will be met by Israeli ones “both on the ground, and in the international arena,” though he did not spell them out. Palestinian efforts to enlist other international players to impose a solution will further deteriorate the situation and ultimately fail, he said.

Having said that, Liberman added in his statement that in addition to opposing these moves and trying to stop them, Israel must take the initiative.

“We cannot sit with folded arms and only say why we are opposed,” Liberman said in barely hidden criticism of Netanyahu.

“The lack of an Israeli initiative will further lead to a deterioration of Israel’s standing internationally, hurt our relations with our friends in the West, and will not make it possible for us to stand firmly on those things important for us. Standing in place is dangerous for Israel.”

Liberman said sarcastically that while Israel was currently dealing with “fateful” questions such as which politicians will join up with whom, “the world is not waiting for us and is moving forward with processes that endanger us.”

For that reason, he said, it was essential for Israel to present an initiative. Liberman, now in election mode, has over the last several months spoken about a plan for a wider comprehensive agreement that would arrange Israel’s relations with its Arab neighbors, the Palestinians, and Israeli Arabs.

“Even if there is not a majority in the government for this proposal, we are obligated to take some kind of initiative. Israel cannot afford to be led by others, rather we must initiate and lead,” he said.

Liberman’s comments were applauded by Livni, who in an Israel Radio interview called his words “right and true.” Up until a few weeks ago the two sat together in Netanyahu’s cabinet, and often locked horns over diplomatic issues.

Livni said that everyone who is on the diplomatic front understands that an Israeli initiative is something that can prevent the world and the Palestinians from trying to impose a solution on Jerusalem.

The Palestinians were making a mistake with their move to the UN Security Council, calling for an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines within two years, she said, and if they wanted a Palestinian state they would have to “go to a place where they will need to give Israel what it needs, because an agreement will be based on the interests of both sides, not only on their interests.”

If the Palestinians do indeed decide to go all the way with the wording of their resolution, “the US will veto it, because that resolution is opposed to US policy,” she said.

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