Former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman said on Saturday that an agreement with the Palestinians was not currently possible, weeks before US President Barack Obama’s upcoming trip to Israel.
Liberman ticked off in a Channel 2 interview the assassination last week of the opposition leader in Tunisia, the terrorist murder last week of dozens of people in Iraq, and the killing of 117 people in Syria on Friday, and said it was not realistic to think it possible in this environment to reach a comprehensive peace accord with the Palestinians.
“Anyone who thinks that in the center of the diplomatic, political and social tsunami that is shaking the Arab world it is possible to get a magical solution of comprehensive peace with the Palestinians does not understand,” he said.
“I am saying clearly that it is impossible to reach a comprehensive agreement with the Palestinians,” said Liberman, who has not hidden his desire to return to the helm at the Foreign Ministry after his upcoming trial. “It is impossible to solve the conflict, it needs to be managed.”
Soon after Obama’s visit was announced last week, White House spokesman Jay Carney played down expectations of Obama arriving in Israel with any new dramatic peace proposals, saying that this was not the focus of the visit.
Liberman said he was in favor of negotiations with the Palestinians “at any time and in any place in the world, without preconditions.” However, he said those negotiations should be over “a long term interim agreement.”
Whether or not negotiations will be held, he said, rested with the Palestinians. “The ball is in Abu Mazen’s [PA President Mahmoud Abbas] court,” he said.
Liberman said that to his understanding the first thing on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s agenda was “the real security threat, first from the Iranians, but also from Hamas, Hezbollah and even Abu Mazen who only two days ago was in Cairo and thanked [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad [for supporting the PA upgrade at the UN in November].”
Meanwhile, Liberman’s former deputy Danny Ayalon, who Liberman left off his party’s Knesset slate, said Saturday at a cultural event in Holon that Israel should recognize Palestine as a full member of the UN.
“Israel will give the Palestinians sovereignty and independence and in return, they will recognize Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people and will guarantee security arrangements,” he recommended.
Ayalon called on Netanyahu to say to the Palestinians: “I am prepared to recognize you, but you have to recognize me.”
Ayalon also said Abbas must state in Arabic – rather than in Hebrew or English – that he recognizes Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people.
He said such a statement would have a huge impact on generations to come.
Addressing Obama’s trip, Ayalon – who left his position as deputy foreign minister on Tuesday – said he expected there would be an attempt to jump-start the diplomatic process, and that this might be done with a three-way summit meeting between Netanyahu, Abbas and Obama, or perhaps even a four-way meeting with Jordanian King Abdullah II.
The Prime Minister’s Office said they have not heard of any plans for such a summit.
Ayalon said Obama’s visit would once again put the US president in the position of leading the Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic process, and that the trip would pave the way for new US Secretary of State John Kerry to continue negotiations between the parties.
“If the president’s visit does not yield results, it will raise a lot of doubts and criticism,” he said.
Tamara Zieve contributed to this report.