Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, fresh off what was widely viewed as his “undiplomatic” address to the UN General Assembly last month, told his visiting Spanish and French counterparts on Sunday that before coming to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, they should concentrate on the problems in their own backyard.
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“I don’t expect you to solve the problems of the world, 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 those conflicts,” Lieberman told French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos, who arrived on Sunday for a day of talks in Israel, followed by a day of talks in the Palestinian Authority.
Lieberman said that after solving the conflicts in the Caucasus and Cyprus, and after making peace between Serbia and Kosovo, then the Europeans can come here and “we will listen to your advice.”
“In 1938, the European community decided to appease Hitler instead of supporting Czechoslovakia and sacrificed them [sic] without gaining anything,” Lieberman said.
“We will not be Czechoslovakia of 2010. We will ensure the security of Israel.”
Lieberman said it seemed as if the international community was trying to make up for all its failures in solving conflicts around the world by forging an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians in one year.
“What about the struggle in Somalia, North Korea, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan and Sudan?” he asked. “Instead of talking now with the Arab League about the future of a referendum in Sudan, or discussing the explosive situation in Iraq in 2012, the international community is applying great pressure on Israel.”
Lieberman said that while the international community was talking about
bringing about calm in the region, it would likely cause the exact
opposite and “bring about an explosion like what happened after Camp
David in 2000.”
Earlier in the day, Moratinos and Kouchner met
with President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense
Minister Ehud Barak and opposition leader Tzipi Livni, and heard less
Nevertheless, in those meetings as well, the
two foreign ministers were told that just as the international community
played a role in getting the PA to enter direct talks with Israel last
month, it must convince it of the need to show flexibility on the
settlement moratorium issue now.
Even before the duo’s arrival,
Israeli officials relayed Jerusalem’s displeasure to Paris and Madrid at
their recent decisions to upgrade the status of the Palestinian
delegations in each capital to “mission” status.
The French took
that step in July, following an upgrade of the PLO presence in
Washington to “delegation general,” and Spain took a similar move in
Israel’s message to the French and the Spanish was
that this was not the right time to give the Palestinians a “free
prize,” and that it sent the wrong message at a time when the PA was not
showing any flexibility.
It was not immediately clear whether this came up in the meetings on Sunday.
in a much more conciliatory statement than Lieberman’s, said before his
meeting with the two Europeans that although he knew there would be
disagreements with them regarding the settlement moratorium issue, “they
both take a lot of time working towards a real European contribution to
peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
“I know that they are
both friends of Israel, and they are respected by the Palestinians and
throughout the Arab world. Therefore, they can really help,” the defense
Diplomatic officials said the primary purpose of
the visit was for the two to raise European involvement in the current
diplomatic process, at a time when the EU’s role has proven very
minimal. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has invited Netanyahu, as well
as PA President Mahmoud Abbas, to Paris later this month for talks.
Although Netanyahu has accepted the invitation, no date has yet been
At the beginning of his meeting with Peres, Kouchner said that he was “optimistic” about the current diplomatic prospects.
optimistic. It takes time, it always takes time in this region, but
this is a delicate moment where we can make an effort and make progress
in direct talks and in peace.”
Moratinos added that “both sides
sent a clear and strong message to the international community that they
want to keep up the momentum, keep an open door to direct talks, and
they are ready to move on to significant matters.”
“We can not give up on peace,” Peres said. “It is clear to all sides that the alternative is worse and dangerous.”
Palestinian paper Al-Ayyam
meanwhile, on Sunday quoted Kouchner as saying in a written interview
that he could not rule out the UN Security Council creating a
Kouchner reportedly told the paper that France
preferred a twostate solution negotiated between the PA and Israel but
that a UN-brokered resolution to the decades-long conflict remained a
“The international community cannot be satisfied
with a prolonged deadlock. I therefore believe that one cannot rule out
in principle the Security Council option,” he was quoted as saying.
mentioned on Friday in Libya the possibility of turning to the UN
Security Council for recognition if talks fail, an idea Israeli
officials dismissed as “unrealistic” and a “mirage.”
In a related
development, the Shas spokesman issued an unequivocal denial to a
Channel 10 report Sunday that the party’s Construction and Housing
Minister Ariel Attias recently told the security cabinet that Rabbi
Ovadia Yosef would approve a another 60-day settlement construction
moratorium if the US promises that it would be the last.
spokesman, however, issued a statement saying that Yosef told Shas
chairman Eli Yishai that the party will oppose any moratorium extension,
even for only two months, and will instruct the Shas ministers to vote