FM Liberman and German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Jordan’s stability is one of Israel’s vital national security interests, and Jerusalem will do everything to preserve that stability, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said in Berlin on Monday.
Liberman’s comments, the strongest public statement by a senior official so far of Israel’s commitment to Jordan’s security in light of the advances made by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), followed a meeting the foreign minister had with his German counterpart, Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
With his statement, the foreign minister gave public voice to something Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been saying in private meetings for months: that the international community needs to continue to give Jordan economic, political, and security support.
Jordan, Netanyahu said Sunday evening in a speech he delivered at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, is a “stable, moderate country with a strong army, that knows how to defend itself. Precisely for this reason, It deserves international support.”
Just as Jordan deserves international backing, Netanyahu said the Kurds – whom he also characterized as moderate – deserve a state of their own. This position – in support of a Kurdish state in northern Iraq – is at odds with that of the US, which is that Iraq should remain a united state.
Perhaps wanting to preempt any possible diplomatic confrontation with Washington over this issue, Liberman made clear in Berlin the future of Iraq is up to the people who live there, and stressed that Israel has no interest in interfering. With that, however, he said an independent Kurdish state is turning into an established fact.
Liberman, who in recent days has been intensively lobbying both US Secretary of State John Kerry and European statesmen to shift gears and focus on a comprehensive regional agreement, rather than a narrow Israeli-Palestinian one, called on Europe and the US to press the moderate Arab states with whom Israel does cooperate to make that cooperation public.
Only this type of move, he said, would enable the Middle East to better deal with the challenges facing it in Syria, Iraq, Libya, and with Iran.
If Germany, France, and the US will use their influence to this end, Liberman said, the results will be more significant and faster than the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, which he said have been on a “path to nowhere” for the last 21 years.
Liberman chided the international community – led by the EU and the US – for supporting the establishment of a Palestinian unity government backed by Hamas last month, saying this gave the terrorist organization a “shot of encouragement” that has led to a significant increase in its terrorist activities since the signing of the agreement.
This increase in Hamas terror was evident through the kidnapping of Gil-Ad Shaer, Eyal Yifrah, and Naftali Fraenkel
, as well as in the increase in rocket attacks
from Gaza, he said.
“It is better late than never, and we expect the international community not to give legitimacy to Hamas or a government to which it is a partner, and to completely distance itself from them,” he added.
Liberman, who a day earlier indicated that he was in favor of completely taking over the Gaza Strip
, said that Israel could not tolerate a continuation of the firing of rockets onto Israel from Gaza, and will have to take “hard steps” if it continues.