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(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem / The Jerusalem Post)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Sunday fiercely attacked the diplomatic
process with the Palestinians that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu began in
Washington last week, telling Israel Beiteinu activists in the capital that a
peace deal is “unachievable.”
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In a lengthy address to more than a
thousand supporters at the Rimonim (formerly Shalom) Hotel, Lieberman criticized
previous governments and his own for not learning the lessons of 17 years of
failed diplomatic negotiations.
He said he gets asked all the time why he
is against hope, and he responds that he is for hope but against
“It must be understood that signing a comprehensive agreement
in which both sides agree to end the conflict and end all of their claims and
recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people is a goal that is not
achievable in the next year or in the next generation, so any historic
compromises or painful concessions won’t help,” he said.
The best that
could come out of the talks was a long-term interim agreement with the
Palestinians, Lieberman said.
He promised that his party would fight
against further construction freezes and unilateral
“Seventeen years should be enough time to realize what is
and is not possible. I know there is pressure to continue the freeze, but I
don’t know a single reason to do so.
Listing the summits that launched
peace processes in the past, Lieberman mocked “the many grandiose productions of
the international peace industry,” which had led to “many cocktails, many talk
shows. No results.”
Israel had already suffered enough from the
“adventures and experiments of irresponsible politicians,” he
Lieberman asked what would happen if Israel reached a deal with
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and then Hamas said it was not
legitimate because by Palestinian law, Abbas’s term ended in January 2009.
Israelis needed to ask themselves what would happen if there was a Palestinian election following the creation of a
Palestinian state and Hamas won.
The speech was seen as an attempt by
Lieberman to take advantage of Netanyahu’s leftward shift and win over
disgruntled Likud voters. He even made a point of singling out National
Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau, now of Israel Beiteinu, and other former
Likud officials in the room.
Lieberman said that Israel Beiteinu had come
a long way since the days when it could be dismissed, and now was a force to be
Sources close to him said he felt an obligation to tell
the truth about diplomatic realities. They said his views had only been
strengthened by what he had seen over the past year and a half as foreign
By contrast, Netanyahu faced almost no criticism from ministers
from his own party at Sunday’s Likud ministerial meeting.
Silvan Shalom only attacked him on procedural matters, saying it was “improper”
that Netanyahu had not convened the security cabinet to discuss his red lines in
the negotiations with the PA.
At Sunday’s cabinet meeting, Netanyahu
broke off discussions on the talks and the settlement freeze after only
ministers had spoken, saying that the issues were “too sensitive.”
pre-Rosh Hashana toast in Tel Aviv hosted by Netanyahu’s No. 2 in Likud,
Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar, ministers who spoke made a point of
the prime minister even if they disagreed with some of the statements he
“I trust him to lead us to true peace with security,” Sa’ar
said in his speech.
“When we see the prime minister in complicated
negotiations with the Palestinians, even if we have our doubts and our
about the other side’s intentions, this is the time for unity and to
back up the
prime minister, who is sent to carry out the most difficult of
Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan added that “we
must give Netanyahu our maximum support during talks with the
Ben Hartman contributed to this