FM: 'Arab-Israelis should be main issue of negotiations'

Lieberman says guiding principle in talks with Palestinians should be exchanges of land, population; Zoabi: Lieberman doesn't define our rights.

lieberman threatening 311 (photo credit: AP)
lieberman threatening 311
(photo credit: AP)
The strong opposition of the Arab League and the Palestinian Authority to recognize Israel as a Jewish state puts the status of Arab-Israelis at the forefront of negotiations with the Palestinians and cannot be ignored, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman was quoted by Israel Radio as saying Sunday morning.
Speaking before a government meeting, Lieberman said that every Israeli citizen, including Arab-Israelis, can serve at any type of state position, such as air force pilots or agents for the Mossad. However, the foreign minister explained, whoever demonstratively opposes Zionism, such as Knesset member Haneen Zoabi or Sheikh Raed Salah, can serve in the parliament of Gaza or in the Palestinian Authority, since they cannot "hold the stick at both sides," he explained.
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The guiding principle in negotiations with the Palestinians, should be exchanges of land and population, and not land for peace, Lieberman said.
"The rights in our homeland are not set according to Lieberman's opinions and are not defined by the state of Israel," MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad) said in response to Lieberman's comments. "We are not here because of him."
Over the weekend, Lieberman spoke with his British counterpart William Hague, and stated that Israel cannot continue the 10-month construction moratorium in West Bank settlements which is scheduled to end September 26.
"The Palestinians wasted nine months and in the tenth month of the freeze they didn't come to the peace talks out of good will to reach a peace agreement, but rather because they were forced to do so," the foreign minister told Hague. "Those looking for excuses to derail the talks will find them whether or not the freeze continues. We've done our part and now it's the Palestinians' turn. Israel will speak with the Palestinians, but without preconditions."