FM: Israel Beiteinu will reject interim state

Lieberman Israel Beitei

Lieberman with flag 248 88 aj (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi [file])
Lieberman with flag 248 88 aj
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi [file])
Israel Beiteinu will "staunchly oppose" the creation of "an interim Palestinian state," Foreign Minister and party leader Avigdor Lieberman said Sunday amid rumors that the government was pushing for an interim agreement. "The issue has not been discussed in any forum … I fervently hope it's a fabrication," he told reporters before Sunday's cabinet meeting, also saying he was unaware of any new peace initiative that President Shimon Peres was reportedly planning to present to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak during their meeting in Cairo on Sunday. On Friday, The Jerusalem Post reported that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would aim for a final-status agreement - rather than an interim one, as suggested by a number of ministers - if and when negotiations with the Palestinian Authority resumed. Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad also spoke on the issue Sunday, ruling out the idea of an interim state. During a tour of the Jordan Valley later on Sunday, Fayyad said the PA would not accept "a state of crumbs or an interim solution," insisting that Jordan must be the eastern border of the future Palestinian state. Lieberman, meanwhile, alluded to Israel's deteriorating relations with Turkey and to Syria's insistence that Ankara continue to act as a mediator in peace talks between Jerusalem and Damascus. "I don't think that Turkey's position as a mediator between Israel and Syria can be restored in light of [the Turkish leadership's] slurs against Israel and its statements about preferring a Sudanese murderer to Israel's prime minister," said the foreign minister. When Netanyahu and Syrian President Bashar Assad met separately with French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris earlier this month, Assad stressed that Turkey had proven to be a "trustworthy, capable mediator." Lieberman's comments came as Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer was preparing to visit Turkey accompanied by senior Israeli businessmen in order to discuss an economic matters. Despite terming Ben-Eliezer's diplomatic visit "important," Lieberman stated that it had not been approved by the Foreign Ministry. Speaking to Israel Radio on Sunday morning, Ben-Eliezer firmly stated that he would not be deterred by the apparent downturn in Turkey's stance on Israel. "I will make every effort … to restore the diplomatic relations we shared in the past," he said, adding that in his opinion, Turkey was interested in restoring those ties. He said Israel had a "vast interest" in restoring the relations with Turkey in the "economic, diplomatic and strategic fields," and that he hoped his own close ties in Turkey could help achieve this goal. "I'm not a foreigner in Turkey, I've had ties with them for the last eight years," he said. Notably, Ben-Eliezer went on to say that Turkey's ties with Iran didn't necessarily need to adversely affect Ankara-Jerusalem relations. "We have ties with many countries that also have ties with Iran," he said. "Just because a country has ties with Iran doesn't mean we can't speak to it."