Lieberman: Security first, then borders

In Paris, FM says Palestinian state can only be achieved through talks, urges European leaders to reject unilateral statehood bid.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman 311 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)
Israel must reach an agreement on its security before it can address the issue of permanent borders in negotiations for a twostate solution, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Wednesday.
Lieberman spoke during a meeting with his French counterpart, Alain Juppé, in Paris, where he is attending the annual meeting of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
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The stalled peace talks were high on the agenda between the two men, as Israel and France are at odds over a number of key points – including the path to Palestinian statehood, settlement construction and the borders of a future Palestinian state.
Lieberman said Palestinian statehood could only be achieved through negotiations, and that there was no substitute for direct talks. He is urging French and other European leaders to reject unilateral Palestinian attempts to achieve statehood.
Palestinians have refused to negotiate with Israel unless it halts all Jewish construction in east Jerusalem and the West Bank. Israel has rejected this demand.
In response, Palestinians have threatened to seek recognition of statehood at the United Nations in September.
At his meeting with Lieberman, Juppé urged Israelis and Palestinians to re-launch the peace process before September, and pledged his country’s support for that process.
But French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said that if the peace process remains deadlocked, his country would consider supporting the unilateral Palestinian bid for statehood in September.
The status quo was untenable, Juppé said.
A French Foreign Ministry representative said on Tuesday that Paris preferred a negotiated solution to the conflict.
“We will only examine other options likely to restore political momentum to the peace process if the deadlock situation continues until September 2011,” the representative said.
With respect to the borders of a two-state solution, the representative said that “the 1967 lines must constitute the framework for the negotiations – but this must not exclude the possibility of land swaps agreed by the parties.”
The French statement was very similar to those regarding the 1967 lines and landswaps made by US President Barack Obama both in a speech on the Middle East last week and on Monday, when he addressed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
“Regarding the issue of security, the terms of the agreement must not call into question Israel’s security, which is not negotiable. It’s important to put an end to settlement activity and to ensure the sovereignty of the future viable democratic Palestinian state, living in peace alongside Israel,” the French representative said.
But Israel has said that it cannot defend itself within the pre-1967 lines, and has rejected any call to return to them.
The final borders, Lieberman also said, must reflect demographic realities, and the pre-1967 lines were not compatible with Israel’s demographic reality.
He added that in a final-status agreement, the Palestinians must declare an end to the conflict, and an absence of any claims on Israel.