Lieberman: No Turkish mediation as long as I’m in office
YNet News (Link) - Aviad Glickman (December 27, 2009)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been calling on the Palestinians now and again to return to the negotiating table, but Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman views them as �terrorists who are not mature enough to sign a peace agreement which will end the conflict.�
Lieberman, who spoke Sunday at the Foreign Ministry�s first ambassadors� conference in Jerusalem, addressed the tense relations between Israel and Turkey.
�We are not looking to fight with anyone,� he said, �but I regret some of the things which were recently said by the Turkish prime minister. If anyone thinks we will agree to their mediation after all this, they can forget it.
�As long as I am foreign minister, there will be no Turkish mediation in the talks with Syria. But if Damascus wishes to talk, it will only be in a direct meeting, not in secret diplomacy, without mediation and without mediators, definitely not Turkish ones.�
Referring to Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, Lieberman said, �There are all kinds of marginal elements in the government who are implying that there is still room for Turkish mediation, but they should forget about it. We must not provide illusions and say things which have no basis in reality.�
And what about the chances to resume negotiations with the Palestinians? The foreign minister estimates that there is no chance for an agreement which would end in the conflict in the near future.
�We think that if we make more concessions, everything will work out fine,� he told the ambassadors. �Even if we return to the 1967 borders and divide Jerusalem, nothing will change and we will be in the exact same situation.�
He went on to slam the Palestinian leadership, saying that it does not represent its people and will never agree to declare that the struggle against Israel has ended. �Israel has proved that it is ready for painful concessions, more than any other country,� Lieberman said.
�We brought here a group of terrorists from Tunisia, gave them weapons and a government and even ceded Gush Katif. The other side�s current leadership is not ready and not mature enough to sign a peace agreement which will mean an end to the conflict. No matter what we suggest, they will always find an excuse why not to accept it.�
�Olmert gave them everything�
Lieberman addressed peace talks held by former prime ministers, including Ehud Barak in Camp David and Ehud Olmert, who he said �agreed to give the Palestinians everything, including Jerusalem, including the refugees, and including a return to the 1967 borders, and nothing happened.�
The foreign minister stressed that ever since the current government was established, Netanyahu had turned to the Palestinians and asked them to resume negotiations, but they had turned him down.
�The prime minister delivered the Bar-Ilan speech and removed roadblocks. We did above and beyond, including the decision on the (settlement construction) freeze, which was dramatic and not simple. We must tell the world that there is no �magic remedy�. We will not reach a situation of a permanent agreement, not in the coming decade and not in the following one. The Palestinians, among themselves, are also unable to reach stable peace agreements.�
As for the recent wave of arrest warrants issued against Israeli officials abroad, Lieberman addressed Israel�s foreign policy and cooperation with the United States and other countries.
�All the anti-Israel initiatives and the most difficult ones came from elements we have diplomatic relations and cooperation with. This is an attempt to delegitimize us, like those lawsuits the Palestinian Authority files against us to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, in Geneva, in New York and in all kinds of forums.�
The foreign minister said that Israel must seek Washington�s aid while examining the sacrifice of its own interests. �The United States will always be the most important layer in the Israeli foreign policy, but we must think about how to seek their aid and help them without sacrificing our own interests, and we have things to give and contribute to them,� Lieberman concluded.