Lieberman: Building will resume in 10 months

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Israel is willing to sit down for talks with the Palestinians, but with no preconditions or further gestures, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Thursday evening, stressing that the most recent overture was a tactical and temporary move. "In practice, we have not been building for a year and a half, so why pretend," he said in an address at the Ariel University Center. "Like in soccer, you make tactical moves sometimes. It is clear to everyone that in ten months, we will be building again full force; anyone who understands anything knows this." Lieberman maintained that Israel had already taken enough measures to promote a renewal of negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, and called for a change of mindset. "The current government has made many gestures to the Palestinians, including removing roadblocks, the Bar Ilan speech, enabling the Fatah Central Committee to meet, and freezing the construction in Judea and Samaria for ten months. We cannot accept the reality of [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] constantly threatening to resign," he said. "There will be no more overtures, and we will not make another gesture or quarter gesture. Enough with the theatrics and the mediators. We are prepared for direct negotiations without any conditions or gestures. The ball is in the Palestinians' court. We must change our tune," Lieberman insisted. The foreign minister proceeded to expound on the need to downplay the conflict with the Palestinians, which "must not be a central topic, neither [in Israel] nor [in the international arena]. Not everyone in the world is troubled by this problem, and our task is to diminish it, and not make it a central topic. "After all, this is not exactly something the world is troubled with, compared to the horrible terror attacks taking the lives of hundreds of innocent people in Iraq and Sudan," Lieberman noted.