Lieberman responds to 'NY Times'

New minister for strategic affairs agrees to air his views on al-Jazeera.

lieberman 298.88 (photo credit: )
lieberman 298.88
(photo credit: )
Israel Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman, having been the subject of an avalanche of critical editorials and news features in international newspapers since joining the government this week, has decided not to give interviews for a while. But he intends to respond positively to one interview request, from Al Jazeera's soon-to-launch international English network, provided it also runs on the network's Arabic channel. And Lieberman has responded in writing to one of the critical articles: He fired off a letter on Monday night - the same evening as he was sworn in to his new posts of deputy prime minister and minister for strategic affairs - to The New York Times. A Times editorial on October 25 had called Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's decision to bring Lieberman into the cabinet "unwise" and "damaging." It compared the move to Hamas's refusal to reject terrorism, calling both "obstacles to peace." "Creating new obstacles to peace with the Palestinians is the last thing Israel needs after the Lebanon fiasco," the editorial said. In his response, which was published on Wednesday, Lieberman accused the Times editorial board of "old thinking" and said it was time to "go back to the drawing board" to reevaluate the goals of the peace process. "The Middle East peace process has failed miserably, and trying to breathe new life into an already defunct process is not the way to go," he wrote. "Israel needs a new direction. I suggest that we redefine our goals and focus on bringing security and stability to the Middle East instead of setting our sights on an unrealistic, unattainable fantasy." Lieberman decided not to respond, however, to a satirical column published in Ma'ariv on Wednesday that compared him to Adolf Hitler. The column, written by satirists Shai and Dror, made predictions about Lieberman's tenure, from his first day in office until 30 years later. In the column, after 10 years in office, Lieberman complains about not having enough coal for trains and after 20 years complains about the IDF not completing an invasion of Poland. "You have no right to judge me," Lieberman says after 30 years in office, according to the column. "I did everything democratically. The nation supported me, Olmert allowed me to be a minister, Peretz didn't oppose and things developed from there." Lieberman received a more positive portrayal in this week's edition of the British magazine, The Economist, which ran a story under the headline "The lion joins the lambs."