(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman is convinced that no major diplomatic steps will be taken at the Annapolis summit, the Israel Beiteinu leader told The Jerusalem Post at the Knesset on Monday.
He said he was glad to hear reports that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had ruled out the formation of a Palestinian state until Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas regained control over the Gaza Strip from Hamas.
"This will be the biggest headline that will come out of Annapolis," Lieberman said, expressing satisfaction that his efforts to minimize the potential damage to Israel from the summer had apparently succeeded.
Lieberman said he did not expect Abbas to overthrow Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
"There is no chance that he can regain control of Gaza," he said in an interview with the Knesset Channel. "As long as he is not in control o Gaza, he cannot claim to represent anyone. In the West Bank, it's our security forces who are in control. Because he is so weak, our minimum requests are more than he can accomplish."
Lieberman summarized Annapolis as "a terrific cocktail party and a fantastic photo-op" with "no chance of a breakthrough."
Opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu was more concerned than Lieberman that Israel will make dangerous concessions at Annapolis. He told the Likud faction in the Knesset that Israel had given up the policy of insisting on Palestinian reciprocity.
"For real dialogue and real peace, strong partners were necessary on both sides, but neither Olmert nor Abbas fit that bill," Netanyahu said. "The Palestinian Authority is weak and unwilling to lift a finger to stop terror. This process will unfortunately not lead to peace but to the dangers of more concessions that will threaten the essential interests of Israel. We require different partners and a different government."
When one member of the faction suggested that Israel was being victimized by American pressure, Netanyahu said he disagreed.
"I don't think there is any American pressure," Netanyahu said. "There is only Israeli submission. If an Israeli leader had said Israeli security requires standing up for A, B, C or D, I don't think the current US president would have stood in his way."
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