PM: Intervention in Libya will have ripple effect in region

Netanyahu speaks to Kerry on Western involvement in Libya; Ayalon slams PA ‘unilateralism,’ says it sounds ‘death knell’ for peace process.

Peres with Senator John Kerry [file] (photo credit: Jini Agency)
Peres with Senator John Kerry [file]
(photo credit: Jini Agency)
Western intervention in Libya will have a positive ripple effect in Iran and elsewhere in the region, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Tuesday during a meeting with US Senator John Kerry.
According to Netanyahu, the “determination” that the West showed in imposing and implementing the no-fly zone in Libya will be felt by other regimes in the region.
Shortly after meeting Kerry, the chairman of the US Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, Netanyahu said in the Knesset that the upheaval in the region did not start, as many believe, with Tunisia, but rather a year and a half ago in Iran when millions of people took to the streets to “demand freedom, equality and rights.”
If the democratic world enlisted to prevent an oppressive regime in Libya from slaughtering its own people, “I would expect from the western countries and the international community threatening [Muammar] Gaddafi to use similar pressure on Iran,” he said.
Iran, Netanyahu said, is more important than Libya, and its representatives and supporters continue to “torpedo peace and security in the region.”
In his meeting with Kerry, Netanyahu said that so far it appeared that Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah have been exempt from the current upheavals sweeping through their region.
The two men also discussed Syria, how the unrest there was likely to play out, and whether there was a “peace option” with Syria.
Kerry, considered a close confidant of US President Barack Obama, has served as one of Washington’s main interlocutors with Syrian President Bashar Assad, visiting Damascus five times in the last two years. He will not, however, be going there on this regional trip.
In a related diplomatic development, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is scheduled to fly to Paris on Wednesday. On Tuesday French Prime Minister Francois Fillon told the National Assembly that a Palestinian state should be created this year.
The people of the Mideast “are also concerned with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which must not be forgotten while Arab political transition is taking place,” he told the National Assembly in a debate on armed intervention in Libya. France has been a prime mover for western intervention in Libya.
“The peace process must be restarted without delay,” he said, adding that “2011 must also be the year of the creation of a Palestinian state.”
His statements came a week after French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said that while France would not recognize a Palestinian state on its own, the possibility of the entire EU doing so “should be kept in mind.”
Lieberman is scheduled to meet Juppe during his visit. He does not have a meeting scheduled with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, meanwhile, took the Palestinian Authority to task Tuesday for comments Saeb Erekat made in an interview published Sunday, saying that the PA intends on asking the UN to recognize a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders with east Jerusalem as its capital.
Saying that the PA was convinced negotiations with Netanyahu’s government were fruitless, he said “the Palestinian leadership decided to start implementing alternatives to negotiations and the first of these is demanding recognition.”
Ayalon, speaking to some 50 foreign diplomats at the Foreign Ministry, warned that this type of Palestinian “unilateralism” signals “the death knell to the peace process.”
“This policy is a dangerous escalation as it states once and for all the end of negotiations as far as the Palestinians are concerned,” he said. “It was always understood that unilateral steps by one party could lead to unilateral steps by other parties which will not result in the peace and stability that we are supposed to work towards.”
While this unilateralism may result in recognition, Ayalon said, “it certainly will not result in anything resembling statehood. It is irresponsible and provocative.”