Former and possibly future foreign minister Avigdor Liberman, who wields
considerable clout inside Likud Beytenu, said Monday on the eve of US President
Barack Obama’s trip that he and his faction would categorically oppose any
His words come amid talk in recent weeks of a partial
settlement freeze, perhaps on settlements outside the large settlement blocks
and the security fence, as a way of luring the Palestinians back to the
Liberman will return to the Foreign Ministry if he is
exonerated in a trial that is scheduled to end in July.
Israel’s 10-month settlement freeze in 2009-2010 that did not bring the
Palestinians back to the talks, Liberman said that after that effort failed, he
made up his mind to oppose any future freeze.
While saying that he was
not opposed to good will gestures to the Palestinians, he stressed they needed
to be reciprocal.
Speaking at a press conference to mark the swearing in
of the new government on Monday, Liberman stated that “the Palestinian issue has
not progressed in the past four years, and it will not progress in the next four
years either. Anyone speaking about a solution to the Palestinian problems is
either living, or prefers to live, in an illusion.”
“It is impossible to
solve this conflict; it needs to be managed. The relationship with the
Palestinians needs to be maintained,” he said.
Liberman said that “we are
not an isolated island; everything is interconnected,” and added that in the
tumultuous Middle East, it was a mistake now to think that it would be possible
to “isolate one point and build Switzerland there.”
Asked what would
constitute a successful Obama visit in his eyes, the Yisrael Beytenu chairman
said the fact that the US president chose to visit Israel in the first trip of
his second term was a success in and of itself.
Replying to a question
about Turkey, Liberman, who was the leading voice in the outgoing government
against acceding to Turkish demands that included a clear apology for the 2010
‘Mavi Marmara’ incident, reiterated his position that Israel could opt for the
type of apology that the US made to Pakistan for accidentally killing 24
Pakistani troops in air strikes in November 2011.
The language of that
apology, which said “we are sorry for losses suffered,” has been rejected by the
Turks in the past.
Liberman reiterated that good ties with Turkey were in
the interest of both countries, and added that even with the tensions in
relations, the economic ties between the countries had grown over the past four
The issue of Turkish-Israeli ties is likely to come up during
Obama’s visit, as the US sees an improvement in the relationship as an important
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.