War is inevitable, Lieberman tells Rice

Outlines plan for territorial, population exchanges; says IDF needs new Operation Defensive Shield.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
October 16, 2007 00:34
1 minute read.
lieberman at desk 298

lieberman 224.88. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])

An IDF operation to destroy the terrorist infrastructure in the Gaza Strip is inevitable, Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman told US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Monday in a meeting at Jerusalem's David Citadel Hotel. Lieberman told Rice Israel needed an operation modeled after Operation Defensive Shield in the West Bank in the spring of 2002. He outlined his plan for exchanges of territory and populations with the Palestinians and warned Rice against pressuring Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to take steps that would cause the downfall of his government. "In the current political conditions, the government cannot allow itself to make controversial decisions on sensitive issues," Lieberman told Rice. "The conference planned for Annapolis is a mistake. It will be just another conference and just another document. Without a noticeable improvement in Israeli security or Palestinian economic conditions, the conference will not be different than any of the unsuccessful conferences of the past." Lieberman emphasized the decision of the Israel Beiteinu central committee last week to view dividing the holy basin of Jerusalem as a red line for the party remaining in the coalition. Shas leader Eli Yishai also warned Rice on Sunday that dividing Jerusalem would lead to the government's downfall. Like Yishai, Lieberman recommended to Rice that the economic conditions of the Palestinians be improved before issues like Jerusalem are raised. "There is no point in raising complex and sensitive issues until the Palestinian economic situation is taken care of," Lieberman told Rice. National Union chairman Benny Elon, whose diplomatic plan also focuses on improving the economic conditions of the Palestinians, presented the plan to Olmert on Monday. Elon said he told Olmert the plan could be used as an alternative for him after the Annapolis summit fails.


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