Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman went on the offensive at the annual EUIsrael
Association Council meeting in Brussels on Tuesday, presenting the EU foreign
ministers with a document contrasting Israel’s confidence- building measures
toward the Palestinians with the PA’s “confrontational conduct,” and urging the
EU not to encourage Palestinian provocations.
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As Lieberman entered the
press room in Brussels for a media conference with Hungarian Foreign Minister
Janos Martonyi, an unidentified protester stood in front of him and said he
wanted to perform a citizen’s arrest, shouting that Lieberman should stand trial
for war crimes. The demonstrator was quickly ushered out by security
Martonyi said at the press conference that the upheavals in
the Middle East highlight the importance of resuming the stalled diplomatic
process with the Palestinians.
Lieberman said it was important to resume
direct peace talks with the Palestinian Authority, but that “poverty and misery”
are the main reasons for the unrest in Arab countries, and that there was no
link between that turmoil and the Israeli- Palestinian diplomatic
Martonyi, whose country currently chairs the EU, said: “These
are core issues. They are the heart of the matter.
We all have to
understand that time is pressing. The dramatic changes and regional instability
which results from them make the progress on the peace process more imperative
and more urgent than ever before.”
During the meeting, held annually
between the Israeli foreign minister and his EU counterparts, Lieberman said
that since the establishment of the Netanyahu government Israel has taken
numerous steps to improve life for the Palestinians and shown a genuine desire
to renew negotiations.
By contrast, he said, “during this time the
Palestinians have worked in the opposite direction and have done everything to
upset relations between the sides, in the belief that this will win them
sympathy and support in the international community.”
Lieberman gave the
EU foreign ministers a paper prepared by the Israeli Foreign Ministry on “The
Palestinian Authority’s political offensive against the State of Israel,” which
details the PA’s activities over the past two years.
were “violating the Oslo Accords” by attempting to change the status of Judea,
Samaria and the Gaza Strip, inciting against Israel, acting against Israel
within the international organizations, organizing boycotts, glorifying suicide
terrorists and encouraging terrorism, the paper said.
Lieberman told his
EU counterparts, a number of whose countries have recently upgraded the status
of the Palestinian delegations in their capitals, that those who genuinely want
to bring about a renewal of negotiations need to condemn the Palestinian
“Whoever truly wishes to improve Israeli-Palestinian relations
and to bring about a renewal of sincere, effective negotiations between the
sides must condemn the Palestinians for their actions and for their brazen
violation of agreements signed with Israel, and let them know that their
attempts to unilaterally establish a fait accompli will not succeed,” Lieberman
“The international community and the European countries in
particular have a responsibility to urge the Palestinians to return to
negotiating, rather than encouraging them to continue their provocations, which
will only lead to a dead end that will harm the Palestinians more than it will
harm Israel,” he said.
The paper, which the Foreign Ministry plans to
present to members of the US Congress as well as to members of European
parliaments, says that while the Palestinians have been confronting Israel, the
Netanyahu government has taken numerous steps to benefit the Palestinians,
including helping to improve and strengthen the Palestinian economy; reducing
roadblocks; upgrading goods crossings; encouraging Palestinian business
activity; increasing the numbers of Palestinians employed in Israel; promotion
infrastructure, electricity and water projects; and engaging in security
cooperation with the PA.
The paper also described a series of steps
Israel took to ease the lives of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip: promotion
of health and education projects: upgrading the crossings for goods; providing
entry permits into Israel for businessmen; increasing exports from the Gaza
Strip; and agreeing to the “Blair package” to improve infrastructure in the
The EU, at least judging from a statement it issued after the
meeting, was unimpressed.
The EU “remains extremely concerned by the
prevailing situation in Gaza,” and called for “the immediate, sustained and
unconditional opening of crossings for the flow of humanitarian aid, commercial
goods and persons to and from Gaza. Despite some progress following the decision
of the Israeli government of June 20, 2010, to ease the closure, changes on the
ground have been limited and insufficient so far,” the EU statement
It called for concluding diplomatic negotiations with the
Palestinians by September, and for the parties to resume negotiations on all
final-status issues while “respecting previous agreement and
This is at odds with the Netanyahu government’s
position, which is that the talks will not pick up where they left off under
former prime minister Ehud Olmert.
The statement again slammed the
settlements, and said “a way must be found through negotiations to resolve the
status of Jerusalem as the future capital of two states.”
also related to the recent discussion in the Knesset about NGOs supported by
foreign governments, mostly from EU countries.
“The EU calls on Israel to
promote its active NGO sector and to refrain from actions which may
significantly curtail its freedoms,” the statement said. “In this context, the
EU is concerned about the proposed parliamentary inquiry committee to
investigate NGO funding and the draft law on recipients of financial support
from foreign political entities.”
On Monday, the Knesset passed
legislation requiring NGO transparency, but dropped plans to form a
parliamentary committee to examine where various NGOs were getting their
funds.AP contributed to this report.