Lieberman urges Quartet to call Israel a Jewish state

Last-minute meeting of Quartet before PA takes statehood bid to UN scheduled to discuss ways to get both sides back to the table,

July 11, 2011 01:41
3 minute read.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman

Avigdor Lieberman looks sad, crying? 311 (R). (photo credit: Reuters)

Israel would be willing to return to negotiations with the Palestinians based on the 1967 lines, with land swaps, if a declaration following a meeting of the Quartet on Monday refers to Israel as the national home of the Jewish people, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman indicated on Sunday.

Israel was willing to demonstrate flexibility, but it had to be “reciprocal,” Lieberman said in an Israel Radio interview.

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“Right now the Palestinian side has come with harsh and stubborn conditions, without a willingness to compromise on any point, and in effect is dictating the opening conditions of negotiations,” he said.

“We will not agree to that,” he said. “And one thing has to be clear, we are talking about Israel as the state of the Jewish people. That has to be in any declaration. I hope that this point appears clearly in the Quartet declaration.”

If it does, “We will be willing to start negotiations.”

A senior Israeli government official said on Sunday that the Quartet could make a significant contribution to the peace process by issuing a statement following its Monday meeting in Washington outlining a diplomatic end game “in language that the Israeli public could appreciate.

“The Quartet and the EU in their statements often focus on what Israel has to give in the framework of a peace agreement, but without making clear what we will get in return,” the official said. “Israel can’t be expected to give up everything for nothing.”

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon are scheduled to discuss on Monday ways to get the sides back to the table, amid expectation that this is a last-ditch effort to come up with a formula to restart negotiations that will be acceptable to both sides, and will deter the Palestinians from going ahead with their bid to seek recognition of statehood at the UN in September.

If the Palestinian Authority wants the Security Council to take up the matter by September’s annual General Assembly session, it will need to file a request with Ban by Friday.

Israeli officials have expressed concern that in an effort to dissuade the Palestinians from going to the UN in September, the Quartet might propose a formula for restarting negotiations based on US President Barack Obama’s comments in May about starting talks with the 1967 lines, and mutually agreed swaps, as a baseline.

For this to be acceptable to Israel, one official said, it would also be necessary for the statement to say unequivocally that the end of the diplomatic process will result in two states for two peoples, one for the Palestinians and the other the national home of the Jewish people.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said in private meetings on Sunday that PA President  will not agree to any compromise or gesture toward Israel without external pressure being exerted on him. There has been no pressure placed on the Palestinians, he said, and the only way peace will be achieved is if they feel pressure as well.

Lieberman – referring to efforts to find a formula that would end the crisis in ties with Ankara stemming from last year’s Mavi Marmara incident – said that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan “is not looking for an agreement, not peace and not normalization, but only to humiliate Israel and undermine its international standing and its standing in the region.”

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