FM keeps mud-slinging match with Europe alive

Lieberman: Israel does not need lessons in democracy from Europe, not even Britain.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Baz Ratner)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman 311 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Baz Ratner)
Israel does not need lessons in democracy from Europe, not even Britain, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Sunday, an indication Jerusalem is still stinging over a harsh condemnation of its policies last week by three key European powers.
The four current members of the UN Security Council – Britain, France, Germany and Portugal – publicly censured Israel last week for continuing to build beyond the Green Line, and called on it to bring “price tag” law-breakers to justice.
“We have nothing to apologize for,” Lieberman said during a speech at the Foreign Ministry to the annual meeting of Israel’s heads of embassies and consulates abroad. “Israeli democracy does not have anything to be ashamed of in front of the European democracies, and not even the glorious British democracy,” he said.
Lieberman, whose ministry last week issued a statement saying that Europe risked losing relevancy if it continued to reflexively condemn Israel and re-interpret various Quartet statements regarding how to restart negotiations with the Palestinians, said in reference to the “price-tag” attacks that Israel did not need advice on how to deal with “wild weeds” breaking the law in Judea and Samaria, or anywhere else in the country.
Lieberman said that the four European countries need to understand that construction in the West Bank was not the obstacle to peace, and that it was the Palestinians who were blocking negotiations.
While Israel proved in its peace treaties with Jordan and Egypt – the latter of which entailed uprooting settlements – that Jewish communities beyond the Green Line were not obstacles to peace, the Palestinians have proven that for them the settlements are only an excuse not to negotiate, Lieberman said.
He added that when Israel removed all settlements from Gaza, the Palestinian response was missiles and terrorism.
Rather than condemning Israel, Europe should be condemning Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Lieberman said, characterizing Abbas as someone who has shown that “he is not a partner for anything.”
Lieberman said Abbas revealed his true colors last week, when he met in Turkey with Amneh Muna, the Palestinian woman who lured 16- year-old Ofir Rahum to Ramallah, where he was murdered in 2001. Muna was released and deported as part of the swap for Gilad Schalit.
With the Middle East in turmoil now, it is not the time to think that a peace agreement with the Palestinians can be reached any time soon, he said.
“In the midst of an earthquake do you start to lay the foundations for a new building?” he asked rhetorically.
Lieberman reiterated his position that the diplomatic focus now should be on maintaining, rather than solving, the conflict with the Palestinians. One focus of attention should be on building up the Palestinian middle class, he said.
Turning to Iran, Lieberman said that some European countries and leaders seemed to feel that they needed to impose sanctions on Iran more to calm down Israel than to stop the Iranian nuclear march.
The foreign minister said there was no need to calm Israel down, and that its decisions would be made in a reasonable and calculated manner.
But, he said, there was “a need to take courageous decisions immediately, and this is our expectation of the international community."