Lieberman responds to UN chief

In letter to Ban Ki-Moon, slams remark that Israel at core of ME problems.

ki-moon 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
ki-moon 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman sent new United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon a critical letter on Tuesday for saying that the Israeli-Palestinian issue was at the core of solving all the problems in the Middle East. Lieberman read in Tuesday's edition of The Jerusalem Post that in an interview with the South Korean Hankyoreh newspaper, Ki-Moon followed the lead of his predecessor, Kofi Annan, by focusing on "Palestine." "If the issues with the conflicts between Israel and Palestine go well, [resolutions of] other issues in the Middle East, including Lebanon, Iran, Iraq and Syria, are likely to follow suit. I will meet with the concerned parties as soon as possible," Ban said in an interview posted on Hankyoreh's English Web site. Lieberman said he found himself "deeply concerned" by Ki-Moon's premise that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would prompt resolution of the Iranian threat. "I have never heard Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad call for territorial compromises from Israel, but rather for the total and unconditional annihilation of the Jewish state," Lieberman wrote. "I have never heard Mahmoud Ahmadinejad call for negotiations between Israel and Palestinians, yet I have heard his repeated calls for wiping Israel off the map. Ahmadinejad's vision for a 'new Middle East' is one void of a Jewish state or any Jews at all." Lieberman said that any reference to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by Iran was a pretext for the worst anti-Semitic ideology the world has known since Nazi ideology and the Holocaust. He said that Ahmadinejad's intentions were clear, and that while the free world takes its time, he pushes forward with his nuclear weapons program. "The State of Israel can, and will, stand alone against Iran, but we should not be asked to," Lieberman wrote. "If allowed to achieve nuclear weapons, the entire free world will pay a heavy price - Israel will be the first and will pay the heaviest price, but Iranian aggressiveness will not stop there." Lieberman called upon Ki-Moon to immediately revoke Iran's membership in the United Nations, pressure the UN Security Council to impose the harshest and most extensive set of sanctions the world had ever seen and halt Iran's progress towards nuclear weapons. Herb Keinon contributed to this report.