'Quartet's comments distance peace'

In Brussels, Lieberman says peace must be built meticulously, not forced.

lieberman threatening 311 (photo credit: AP)
lieberman threatening 311
(photo credit: AP)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman arrived in Brussels on Friday forseparate talks with officials of several European Union nations afteran official meeting between the EU and Israel was called off.
Upon arriving in Brussels, Lieberman criticized the Quartet’s earlierstatement, according to which Israel’s plan to construct new housingunits in Jerusalem was a hindrance to peace negotiations which, if started,would see the creation of an independent Palestinian state within 24months.
According to Israel Radio, Lieberman said that the Quartet’s statementignores the fact that the foundations of peace must be set before peacecan be achieved. Peace, he was quoted as saying, is not something thatcan be forced upon two parties or saddled to an unrealistic timeline.
Lieberman reportedly said that such statements only made real peacebetween Israel and the Palestinian a more remote possibility.
The Israeli embassy said Lieberman will meet with representatives of Europe's Jewish organizations during the weekend.
On Monday, he will meet with foreign ministers from Germany, Lithuaniaand Finland while attending the EU's monthly foreign affairs council.
EU spokeswoman Cristina Gallach said Lieberman was supposed to attend ajoint EU-Israel committee meeting Monday, but this was postponed untilnext month because EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton had justvisited Israel and Gaza this week.
Gallach denied that the postponement was not meant to be a snub, butthe move came as EU-Israeli ties are under increasing strain.
In December, the European Union accused Israel of trying to divide itto stop it from passing a resolution calling for Jerusalem to be theshared capital of Israel and a future Palestinian state. The measurewas adopted despite Israel's opposition.
The European Union also has criticized Israel over its suspected rolein the slaying of a Hamas militant in Dubai and the killers' allegeduse of forged EU passports.
Israel, meanwhile, was irked by Ashton's trip to the Gaza Strip, whichremains under Hamas control. Ashton was the first senior diplomat toset foot in the blockaded territory in more than a year.
During her visit, a rocket fired by Gaza militants smashed into agreenhouse in an Israeli border village, killing a Thai worker. It wasthe first such death since Israel's massive offensive againstHamas-ruled Gaza more than a year ago.
The Israeli air force responded early Friday by striking six targets in southern Gaza. No injuries were reported.