lieberman pastoral 311.
(photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)
Israel and the
Palestinians are unlikely to reach an agreement within a year, Foreign
Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Wednesday. "Direct
talks are especially important and I hope that the prime minister will
proceed into them with an understanding that they are not just a favor
done for the Palestinians or the US, but in our [Israel's] interests,"
Speaking to Israel
Radio, the foreign minister said that the Palestinians are making too
many demands and that the Americans are forcing them to attend talks.
Lieberman sought to lessen expectations, saying of the opening of new
negotiations that, "It will be just another event like all such festive
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Lieberman claimed that the Palestinians are only attending the talks because they are being forced to.by the Americans. His comments came after Israel Radio reported sources within the Palestinian Authority as saying that the Obama administration threatened to withdraw funding to the Authority, and to block other international funds, should Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas not agree to the renewal of direct negotiations.
Lieberman, Israel will not agree to US requests for a new freeze on
settlement construction. Lieberman said that, after the end of the
current freeze on September 26, building would restart in the settlement
blocs and "natural growth" would be allowed elsewhere. There are
settlements where each year a new classroom is needed, said Lieberman,
including those which were established under Labor governments.
we punish those who came as part of the Zionist enterprise?" he asked.
asked what Defense Misister Ehud Barak thought of new building in the
West Bank, Lieberman answered that the former had agreed "as I heard him
say." The foreign minister added that negotiations with the
Palestinians would not unsettle the coalition. Kadima does not need to
join the government, said Lieberman, nor does Shas need to leave.
for Kadima, opposition leader Tzipi Livni on Tuesday made comments
regarding Israel's participation in direct talks with the Palestinians
at the Inter-Disciplinary Center in Herzliya where she gave a talk at a
conference regarding the "delegitimization of Israel" in the
She added, "The prime minister's success [in the
direct talks] is a success for all of us, and if he succeeds [in the
talks], we won't attack him for making a move in the right direction."
Herb Keinon contributed to this article.