Lieberman: Israel should accept the Quartet's proposal

Despite reservations, Israel should welcome the peace plan, must be thankful for US assistance in Cairo embassy events and Obama's UN General Assembly speech, FM says.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
September 25, 2011 09:43
2 minute read.
Lieberman listens to Obama speak at UNGA

Lieberman at UNGA R 311 . (photo credit: Reuters)

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Sunday that Israel should accept the Quartet's proposal to begin negotiations without preconditions, in an interview with Israel Radio.

He said that even though he has reservations about the proposal,  he hoped the Palestinians would respond to the initiative and begin serious dialogue with Israel.

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The talks can open the talks on any subject, Lieberman said, but from Israel's standpoint the most important issue is security. The foreign minister said he hoped the Palestinians understood that it was in their interest to focus on the political process and to postpone the vote on their statehood bid.

He warned that any one-sided move would lead to an Israeli response.

"We must be grateful to the United States for their assistance in events surrounding the embassy in Cairo and [Obama's] General Assembly speech, and we should therefore accept the International Quartet's proposal, despite reservations," Lieberman said.

"Mahmoud Abbas fled immediately after his speech, so that we could not, God forbid, negotiate," the foreign minister said. "The Palestinians make up excuses not to negotiate all the time. Those who want excuses will find them. Mahmoud Abbas continues to demand the right of return, and if a Palestinian state is established in Judea and Samaria, he will still want to send the refugees to Israeli territory ".

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had said that he would not give his opinion of the Quartet's proposal until he had returned to Ramallah and discussed its provisions with Palestinian leadership there. He reiterated the return to 1967 borders and halting of settlement construction as pre-conditions to negotiations.

The Middle East Quartet – the US, EU, Russia and the UN – has been trying for months to come up with a formula that would enable direct talks. Its formula was released on Friday afternoon, after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas formally submitted a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon seeking full UN membership.

The Quartet statement urged the parties “to overcome the current obstacles and resume direct bilateral Israeli-Palestinian negotiations without delay or preconditions.”

Acknowledging that talks by themselves will not reestablish trust, the Quartet proposed the following: a “preparatory meeting” between the parties within a month to agree to an agenda and a “method of proceeding in the negotiation.” The two sides will commit that the objective is to “reach an agreement within a time frame agreed to by the parties but not longer than the end of 2012.”

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