Liberman criticized for shift on peace process

Likud MK Feiglin: The foreign minister is encouraging concessions to Palestinians and endangering Israel.

Moshe Feiglin 311  (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Moshe Feiglin 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman faced criticism from colleagues in his Likud Beytenu faction Monday for his surprisingly dovish statements to ambassadors Sunday.
He told the ambassadors that any alternative offer Israel would receive from the international community would not be better than what US Secretary of State John Kerry, whom he met on Friday, would offer Israel. He also suggested that the border would be close to the Trans-Israel Highway.
“He spoke his opinion, not mine,” Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir, Liberman’s number two in Yisrael Beytenu, told The Jerusalem Post. “If he continues speaking that way, yes, it could bother me.”
Likud MK Moshe Feiglin warned Liberman that by encouraging negotiations with the Palestinians and concessions to them he was harming the Jewish state.
“The foreign minister is damaging Israel,” Feiglin said.
“Talking about giving up any part of the land of Israel brings terror and the delegitimizing of Israel abroad that endanger Israel’s existence.”
Liberman also faced criticism from the Left. Former prime minister Ehud Olmert said Liberman’s dovish statements were “refreshing,” but that they were canceled out by him adding that he would oppose any diplomatic deal with the Palestinians that did not involve an exchange of populations.
“Most Israelis understand, and I think Liberman must understand too, that there is no chance to make peace by removing the citizenship of Israeli Arabs in the Triangle and Wadi Ara region,” Olmert said.
A source in Yisrael Beytenu responded to the criticism by saying that Liberman had not changed his views but was acting differently in part because he has a much better relationship with Kerry than he did with his predecessor, Hillary Clinton. He said Liberman would continue expressing his views whether or not they were popular.
“He’s a statesman, not a populist trying to scrape for a few votes,” the Yisrael Beytenu source said.
Politicians on the Left urged Netanyahu on Monday to make the concessions necessary to bring about a diplomatic agreement.
“As someone who is familiar with what is happening in the diplomatic process, I can tell you it’s real,” Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid told his faction.
“There’s a real opportunity, closer than meets the eye, to reach a solution. We shouldn’t miss this opportunity.”
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog met with Kerry Monday morning for an update on the details of the diplomatic process.
He expressed confidence that Kerry could succeed in bridging the gaps between the two sides.
“Kerry is determined to advance a diplomatic framework, he pays attention to details, and believes he can reach an agreement soon,” Herzog said. “It’s not easy, but he’ll do what he can to create the atmosphere and pull the right levers to enable an agreement. I told him we will do what we can to enable a breakthrough in the near future.”