Lieberman 311 AP.
(photo credit: AP)
NEW YORK – Addressing the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Lieberman recommended a “two-staged” solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that “could take a few decades,” and said a final status agreement would entail “not land-for-peace, but rather, exchange of populated territory.”
Lieberman said a “long-term intermediate agreement” prior to final status agreements would most likely be necessary as a first component of a “two-staged” solution.
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An intermediate agreement, Lieberman said, would be motivated from the “need to raise an entire new generation that will have mutual trust and will not be influenced by incitement and extremist messages.” Lieberman added that creating such an emotionally conducive climate “could take a few decades.”
Lieberman stressed that he was not advocating population transfer as part of a final status agreement, but rather, stating that “moving borders to better reflect demographic realities” would be part of an effort to recognize and address the deep-seated friction between the two nations.
Citing examples in East Timor, as well as the former Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia, Lieberman said “where effective separation has been achieved, conflict has either been avoided or has been dramatically reduced or resolved.”
Lieberman said that “precisely this notion – that a mismatch between borders and nationalities is a recipe for conflict – has long been accepted as a virtual truism in the academic community,” referencing the term “right-sizing the state.”
“States and nations must be in balance in order to ensure peace,” Lieberman said. “This is not a controversial political policy. It is an empirical truth.”
“Israel is not only where we are,” Lieberman said. “It is who we are.”
In his remarks, Lieberman expressed the desire to dispel flawed explanations for why the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues to exist, despite seventeen years having passed since the signing of the Oslo Accords.
Lieberman noted that “more than ninety percent” of wars and war victims in the Middle East since World War II have not stemmed from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but rather “from conflicts involving Muslims or conflicts between Arab states.”
Addressing those who believe the conflict’s intransigence stems from “the so-called ‘occupation,’ the settlements in Judea and Samaria and the settlers themselves,” Lieberman noted that “all Judea, Samaria and Gaza were under Arab control for 19 years, between 1948 and 1967.”
“During these 19 years, no one tried to create a Palestinian state,” Lieberman said.
Noting that peace with Egypt and Jordan was created despite the existence of settlements, Lieberman added that 21 “flourishing” settlements were evacuated in Gush Katif, and more than 10,000 Jews were transferred.
“And in return, we have Hamas in power and thousands of missiles on Sderot and southern Israel,” Lieberman said.
Lieberman said he also sought to disabuse those who claim that the Palestinian issue “prevents a determined international front against Iran.”
“This argument is not only flawed, it is completely irresponsible,” Lieberman said. “The same argument could be made that the Palestinian issue prevents action on North Korea, piracy in Somalia, the humanitarian crisis in Sudan or the challenge of Afghanistan .”
The connection between Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Lieberman said, is “precisely reversed.”
“Iran can exist without Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hizbullah, but the terrorist organizations cannot exist without Iran,” Lieberman said, adding that Iran is currently capable of foiling any peace agreement by means of terrorist proxies.
Therefore, Lieberman said, “in searching for a durable agreement with the Palestinians, one which will deal with the true roots of the conflict, and which will endure for many years, one must understand that first, the Iranian issue must be resolved.”
Additionally, Lieberman said, the emotional component of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be addressed as well as the practical one.
The “emotional problems,” Lieberman said, are “the utter lack of confidence between the sides and issues such as Jerusalem, recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, and refugees.”
Due to these problems, Lieberman said, focus should be on coming up with a “long-term intermediate agreement.”
Lieberman’s address was greeted with applause in the General Assembly. Among those in attendance was Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon.
“I think this was one of the best speeches I’ve heard,” Ayalon said of Lieberman’s address. “I think it was a speech with great vision, wisdom and courage.”
“Maybe some people are afraid of the truth, but Mr. Lieberman was showing to the world a mirror through which realities in the world, and especially the Middle East, could be seen clearly,” Ayalon said.