Lieberman sets his conditions for joining gov't coalition.
By HERB KEINONSeptember will pose a “big test” for Israel, but the current coalition will survive a confluence of events due to take place that month, including the expiration of the 10-month settlement moratorium, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Tuesday.“There is no chance that the coalition will change in the current situation; there is no alternative,” Lieberman said amid recurring calls in some quarters for Kadima to join government. “A change can come only if Kadima accepts the principle of trading territory and population as the solution to the Palestinian issue, and give up the principle of land for peace.”RELATED:Netanyahu to Livni: Unity gov’t?The high price of coalition stabilityLieberman’s position, which he has made clear numerous times in conversations with his counterparts from abroad, is that the current proximity talks are a “dead end,” that the past 17 years of peacemaking have led nowhere, and that for anything to work diplomatically, the paradigm must change and the issue of Israeli Arabs must be introduced into the equation.In Lieberman’s equation, an agreement with the Palestinians on the basis of a two-state solution would necessitate a redrawing of borders so that the bulk of Israeli Arabs become citizens of a future Palestinian state, and most of the Jews in settlements will become part of Israel.In addition to the expiration of the settlement moratorium at the end of September, Israel will face other challenges that month, including Turkey’s turn as president of the UN Security Council, and another debate in the UN on the Goldstone Report.Does Israel have a 'partner on the other side'?Meanwhile, a senior diplomatic official expressed pent-up frustration with the Palestinian Authority on Tuesday, saying Israel did not have a “partner on the other side” on either a tactical or substantive level.AdvertisementOn the tactical plane, the official, intimately involved in the government’s diplomatic deliberations, said PA President Mahmoud Abbas did not represent Gaza, and that it was questionable how much of the West Bank he actually represented. “I’m not sure right now how elections would end up there,” he said, pointing out that polling there has been postponed three times over the past year.Also on a substantive level, the official said he was not confident in Abbas as a partner because the Palestinian leader once published a book based on his doctoral thesis linking Zionism to Nazism, and more recently has named 110 streets in the West Bank after terrorists and waged a constant battle trying to delegitimize Israel in various international forums.“I cannot trust a partner like this,” the official said. “It is not someone I can seal a deal with.”Regarding the Gaza Strip, the official said Israel needed to completely “disengage” from the region and stop supplying it with electricity and water. The EU, he said, should build power, sewage and desalination plants inside Gaza, and Israel should step away from the region completely.'J'lem does not have an end game'The official said that Israel was actingproperly in not responding to Turkish Prime Minister Recep TayyipErdogan’s overheated rhetoric, saying the change in Turkey’s overallforeign policy orientation was not related to Israel, and as a resultIsrael “did not have to be at the front” in underlining and criticizingthe changes. “Enough other people are making that case,” he said.The official added that one of Israel’s biggest problems whenconfronting the diplomatic issue was that Jerusalem “did not have anend game.” The official advocated that Lieberman’s desire for twostates based on a swap of land and populations be the end game putforward.The official also bemoaned that in Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’scentral decision-making body, the forum known as the Septet, there wasno agreement on an end game, and there were wide gaps, for instance,among the positions of Defense Minister Ehud Barak, IntelligenceAgencies Minister Dan Meridor, MK Bennie Begin and Strategic AffairsMinister Moshe Ya’alon.He said that while the Palestinians had made clear their overallobjectives to the world, Israel has yet to do that, something that iscausing confusion in the international community and a sense thatIsrael is just treading water and has no clear guiding diplomaticprinciples.
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