FM slams the idea that territorial compromise would help secure a peace deal.
By REBECCA ANNA STOIL
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Monday slammed the idea that territorial compromise would help to secure a peace deal with the Palestinians.Speaking before a session of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Lieberman told MKs that "anyone who thinks that they can attain peace through territorial concessions is deluding himself and others."Lieberman repeatedly emphasized that Israel did not have a viable partner for peace on the Palestinian side. He accused the Palestinian Authority of sponsoring worldwide campaigns to delegitimize Israel, campaigns that Lieberman said were partially financed by "the funds that we transfer to the Palestinians.""The majority of claims against senior IDF officers worldwide are funded and initiated by the PA," he said. "I have no faith in someone who files suits against [Kadima chairwoman] Tzipi Livni or other Israeli officials for war crimes.In every conversation between the Palestinians and international sources, they begin the conversation with the fact that they do not believe in the honesty of our stated intents, he said."I do not honestly believe theirs in light of their initiatives for boycotts on Israeli goods, as well as the litigations. We need to check, as a society, whether we are willing to accept conditions such as these - that on one hand, they will hold negotiations with us, while on the other hand they devote a significant amount of their resources to opposing us."Later in the meeting Lieberman reiterated that "it cannot be that we cooperate with the Palestinians on security and economic issues, and they continue to file claims against us and to incite against us."Lieberman also questioned Palestinan Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's credibility as a negotiating partner."The question was asked who exactly the PA represents," he said. "[Abbas] does not represent Gaza - Hamas is in control there - and because the elections in the PA itself have been delayed three times. The question was asked who Abbas represents, and it is not certain if he is even capable of delivering the goods for negotiations."The conflict, according to Lieberman, had in recent years become a religious struggle - a fact that negated the possibility of peace through territorial compromise."The conflict has transformed in recent years, since the '80s, and mostly since the beginning of the last decade, into a religious struggle. As such, there is no possibility of reaching an agreement though territorial compromise. That is why Livni and Olmert's proposal in Annapolis could not bring peace - because the struggle has become a religious one," he said.Lieberman also emphasized his party's position that population and territory exchange was a crucial element in securing peace."We in Israel Beiteinu are willing to exchange land and territory as was written in our platform. Conflicts such as this one have no easy-out solution."The foreign minister did acknowledge that his ideas were notnecessarily representative of the government of which he is a member,and said instead that it was "my position, according to how I seethings. We act according to the government's guidelines, which no partyagrees with 100 percent, but that is the situation as I see it."Liebermandid offer an optimistic note when he told MKs that "we are forming apro-Israel bloc that is growing and widening. In the last year, wereached - in the case of important votes in international forums - a'moral majority' of 18 states who vote together with Israel, and in thecoming year we hope to expand it further."
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