avishay braverman 298.
(photo credit: AP [file])
A day after Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that he did not believe that peace would be reached “next year or even in the next generation,” Minority Affairs Minister Avishay Braverman on Monday demanded Lieberman’s removal.
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Lieberman himself did not backtrack on his comments, but rather added fuel to the fire in two morning interviews, during the course of which he continued to emphasize a position well to the Right of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
“During days in which the prime minister is advancing in peace talks, it cannot be that a foreign minister who is responsible for presenting the government’s policies on the international stage does not believe in it and even speaks out against them in a callous and disrespectful manner day and night,” Braverman complained.
He added that Lieberman’s statements “critically harm the government’s ability to perform” and “wondered how the prime minister would treat the finance minister if he would express himself in a similar manner against the government’s economic plans.”
“If the prime minister’s intent is to advance with the peace process, he must demand commitment and reinforcement from his ministers,” Braverman added. “It seems today more than ever Lieberman is not suitable to serve as foreign minister of Israel, and the prime minister must move him out of the position.”
Although he called on Labor Party Chairman and Defense Minister Ehud Barak and fellow Labor ministers to join him in the call for Lieberman’s removal, Braverman was the only minister from the coalition’s most left-leaning party to criticize the foreign minister.
In the meantime, Lieberman continued to attack the planned peace talks with the Palestinians. In an interview with Army Radio, Lieberman reiterated his opinion that the ongoing talks were creating high expectations and that the declared goal of a peace deal within a year was impossible.
He argued that the Palestinian side was just bidding for time and looking for a way to blame Israel for the breakdown of peace talks and was not serious about peace negotiations.
In a second interview on Israel Radio, Lieberman ruled out any chance that his party would vote in favor of any extension of the West Bank building moratorium.
“A promise is a promise,” Lieberman said. “We will not agree to any extension [of the building freeze].”
“I promise that if there’s a proposal that we [Israel Beitenu] don’t accept, it will not pass,” he assured.
On the opposition’s side of the aisle, Kadima MKs saw the foreign minister’s statements as an opportunity to drive a wedge between Netanyahu and his largest coalition partner party.
“Even while the prime minister is showing at least signs of willingness to advance negotiations, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is placing stumbling- blocks in his path,” complained MK Nahman Shai (Kadima).
“The foreign minister’s statements call into question the prime minister’s believability and raise a question as to whether Israel has one government or two, with each one running its own foreign policy.
“It is strange that the prime minister allows the foreign minister to
put sticks in the wheels of the negotiations, unless he feels it
benefits him. The prime minister must make it clear to the foreign
minister if he represents the government or is acting against it.”
MK Yohanan Plesner (Kadima) took the criticism a step farther, and
pointed out that the coalition’s three largest parties all were at odds
with each other concerning the future of peace talks.
“The Netanyahu administration has three heads, and lacks direction and
leadership,” Plessner said. “Netanyahu speaks of an agreement within a
year, Lieberman contradicts him, and both of them are trying to
disassociate themselves from the principles for agreement that are
presented by the defense minister.”