Lieberman: Restart settlement contstruction

In meeting with Austrian chancellor, Netanyahu notes irony in using female flotilla against Israel.

Lieberman Faymann 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Lieberman Faymann 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Israel should renew construction in the settlements once the 10-month freeze declared last November ends on September 26, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Wednesday.
According to a statement put out by Lieberman’s office, the foreign minister made the statement in separate meetings Wednesday with visiting Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann, and Gianfranco Fini, the president of the Italian Chamber of Deputies.
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Lieberman told the two visitors he did not see any other option other than renewing building in Judea and Samaria when the moratorium expired.
Lieberman said that up until now, all demands for confidence- building gestures had been directed at Israel, and that even though Israel had taken significant steps toward the Palestinians, the Palestinian side continued its incitement and anti-Israel efforts in the international community.
A day earlier, Lieberman said that September would pose a “big test” for Israel, since during that month, a decision would have to be made on the moratorium, Turkey would take over the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council for a month, and the Goldstone Commission report would return to the UN.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has said repeatedly that construction in the settlements would resume after the moratorium expires, but Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has intimated that there would be no direct talks if the moratorium were not renewed.
A decision to renew settlement construction is expected to draw criticism not only from the Palestinians, but also from the US and international community, while a decision to extend the moratorium would be controversial domestically and place Netanyahu in a difficult position vis-à-vis some of his coalition partners, as well as some of his Likud MKs.
Lieberman said the international community needed to take a “more balanced approach toward Israel,” and that it was not right that there was one standard for the rest of the world, and another one for Israel.
Earlier this week, at a meeting Lieberman held with Dirk Niebel, Germany’s minister of economic cooperation and development, the foreign minister called on the world not to be hypocritical. He said that in the last three weeks, thousands of Muslims had been killed by other Muslims – in Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Iraq, and Afghanistan, as well as Kurds killed by Turks – yet the world remained quiet.
But the world deals with Israel differently because it is democratic, Niebel is said to have responded, to which Lieberman replied, “And what about Turkey?” Netanyahu echoed this theme of a double standard toward Israel in a meeting he held with Fini, saying many people were always calling on Israel to abide by international standards, when in fact international standards – not different ones – needed to be applied to Israel. Netanyahu was referring specifically to the demand for an international commission of inquiry to look into the Gaza flotilla incident, saying similar demands had never been made of other countries in conflict situations.
During a joint press appearance with Faymann, Netanyahu called on the world to intervene and prevent a boatful of women from Lebanon from sailing to Gaza, saying there was no reason for these boats and that Israel had lifted its restrictions on what was allowed into Gaza. He noted the irony that Iran, Hizbullah and Hamas – not exactly champions of women’s rights – were sending a female flotilla to Gaza.
“Iran, Hizbullah and Hamas, which want to return the world to the middle ages; which don’t let their women dress, work or express themselves freely; whose women live in subjugation, and sometimes without basic rights and subject to violence – precisely those regimes are the ones organizing a boat of women as propaganda against Israel,” he said.
Faymann, meanwhile, began his state visit by placing a wreath on the grave of Theodor Herzl, the first state leader to do so since Israel changed its protocol procedures and initiated a policy to honor Herzl’s 150th birthday by having all visiting heads of state lay a wreath at his grave.
US Vice President Joe Biden did so during his visit in March, but he is not a head of state.
The only head of state to come since then was Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, whose refusal to do so clouded his trip here.
The Austrian government has contributed funds to the museum on Mt. Herzl honoring the Zionist visionary, who lived part of his life in Vienna.