This was a busy week for Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. French Foreign
Minister Bernard Kouchner and Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos arrived
at the Foreign Ministry Sunday to promote an initiative under which the European
Union would recognize a Palestinian state even before Israel and the Palestinian
Authority reach a final settlement through negotiations. Lieberman responded by
telling his counterparts that before coming to solve the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict, they should concentrate on the problems in their own
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One must wonder why it has become the diplomatic norm for
Europeans to come here for meetings that are disproportionately devoted to
telling Israeli officials what this country should or should not be doing. If
the opposite were true and Israeli officials were to arrive at the Elysee Palace
to lecture the French on their policies, it is easy to see why they would be met
“I don’t expect you to solve the problems of the world,”
Lieberman said, “but I certainly expect that before you come here to teach us
how to solve conflicts, you will deal with the problems in Europe and solve
Lieberman suggested that after solving the conflicts in
the Caucasus and Cyprus, and after making peace between Serbia and Kosovo, the
Europeans can come here and “we will listen to your advice.”
the struggle in Somalia, North Korea, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan and Sudan?” he
After his remarks were leaked to the media, which irked the
European ministers, Lieberman later toned them down.
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“I tried to explain
that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is far from being central to the world and
surely not the most ancient in the world, and I have not seen any universal
formula that has solved all the conflicts on the face of the planet,” he said.
“Our stance is that we must stop stuttering and apologizing.”
pleased with Lieberman’s approach, the Europeans fought back.
admitted that they, too, had problems, but their experience in conflict
resolution and in peacefully bringing together 27 nations gave them
Contrary to his rebuttal, however, Kouchner must be well
aware that conflicts such as those in Ireland and former Yugoslavia were not
resolved by the Europeans themselves but rather required outside help to reach a
resolution. Additionally, the 27 EU nations were not at war with each
other immediately prior to their unification and thus cannot be considered as
having come together under a European peacemaking umbrella.
insists on focusing on Israel, then why not, as Lieberman suggested, review
Turkey’s occupation of Northern Cyprus as well?
In 1974, the Republic of Cyprus
was invaded by the Turks, resulting in continued occupation and considerable
violations of internationally guaranteed human rights. During and after this
period, Turkey committed ethnic cleansing in occupied Cyprus, according to human
rights groups, deliberately violating the European Convention and the 1949
Fourth Geneva Convention.
And yet, even with its ongoing occupation of
Northern Cyprus, Turkey is currently considered a candidate for full membership
in the EU. This lies in sharp contrast to the EU decision to suspend the upgrade
process for Israel in April 2009 after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
announced a reassessment of the peace process and suspended peace
But Kouchner has taken his meddling even further. He said
on Sunday in an interview with the Palestinian newspaper Al-Ayyam, “One cannot
rule out in principle the Security Council option.”
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, who said that the possibility was raised of
eventually going to the UN Security Council to create a Palestinian state on the
1967 borders. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas last Friday also
told leaders at the Arab League meeting in Libya that if peace talks remain
stalled, he may consider asking the US to recognize a Palestinian state within
the pre-1967 borders.
While he is repeating Erekat’s comments, if nothing
else Kouchner’s remarks appear to be blatant European meddling in the peace
process, the resolution of which must be found through bilateral negotiations
between the two sides.
Kouchner appears to be informing the Palestinians
of European support for a Palestinian state regardless of whether or not the
negotiations are successful.
The Europeans were not always so divided
with Israel ideologically. In 1956, Great Britain and France conspired with
Israel to launch the Sinai Campaign against Egyptian president Gamal Abdel
Nasser. Before 1967, France was Israel’s main military supplier, providing
nuclear technology as well.
Today, Europe’s worldview is seen through the
prism of the Arab-Israeli conflict and has placed it at the center of the
world’s problems. They appear, unfortunately, to have created a link between the
resolution of the conflict and world peace, completely ignoring rampant human
rights abuses elsewhere around the globe.
Thus, while Lieberman’s message
in public is harsher than the official government line, it better reflects
reality, and although Defense Minister Ehud Barak quickly declared that
Lieberman does not represent government policy, one would hope these views are
being transmitted by other members of the government as well – even if behind
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