Israel's Lieberman says Palestinian peace accord impossible

JERUSALEM Sat Feb 9, 2013 2:15pm EST

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman attend a Likud-Beitenu faction meeting at parliament in Jerusalem February 5, 2013. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman attend a Likud-Beitenu faction meeting at parliament in Jerusalem February 5, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Baz Ratner

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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel has no chance of signing a permanent peace accord with the Palestinians and should instead seek a long-term interim deal, the most powerful political partner of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday.

The remarks by Avigdor Lieberman, an ultranationalist whose joint party list with Netanyahu narrowly won a January 22 election while centrist challengers made surprise gains, seemed designed to dampen expectations at home and abroad of fresh peacemaking.

A spring visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories by U.S. President Barack Obama, announced this week, has stirred speculation that foreign pressure for a diplomatic breakthrough could build - though Washington played down that possibility.

In a television interview, ex-foreign minister Lieberman linked the more than two-year-old impasse to pan-Arab political upheaval that has boosted Islamists hostile to the Jewish state.

These include Hamas, rivals of U.S.-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who control the Gaza Strip and spurn coexistence with Israel though they have mooted extended truces.

"Anyone who thinks that in the center of this socio-diplomatic ocean, this tsunami which is jarring the Arab world, it is possible to arrive at the magic solution of a comprehensive peace with the Palestinians does not understand," Lieberman told Israel's Channel Two.

"This is impossible. It is not possible to solve the conflict here. The conflict can be managed and it is important to manage the conflict ... to negotiate on a long-term interim agreement."

Abbas broke off talks in late 2010 in protest at Israel's settlement of the occupied West Bank. He angered Israel and the United States in November by securing a U.N. status upgrade that implicitly recognized Palestinian independence in all the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.

Israel insists it will keep East Jerusalem and swathes of West Bank settlements under any eventual peace deal. Most world powers consider the settlements illegal because they take up land seized in the 1967 Middle East war.

Lieberman, himself a West Bank settler, said the ball was "in Abu Mazen's (Abbas') court" to revive diplomacy.

Abbas has demanded Israel first freeze all settlement construction. With two decades gone since Palestinians signed their first interim deal with Israel, he has ruled out any new negotiations that do not solemnize Palestinian statehood.

Netanyahu's spokesman Mark Regev noted that Lieberman, in the Channel Two interview, had said he was expressing his own opinion.

Asked how Netanyahu saw peace prospects for an accord with the Palestinians, Regev referred to a speech on Tuesday in which the conservative prime minister said that Israel, while addressing threats by its enemies, "must also pursue secure, stable and realistic peace with our neighbors".

Netanyahu has previously spoken in favor of a Palestinian state, though he has been cagey on its borders and whether he would be prepared to dismantle Israeli settlements.

Lieberman's role in the next coalition government is unclear as he faces trial for corruption. If convicted, he could be barred from the cabinet. Lieberman denies wrongdoing and has said he would like to regain the foreign portfolio, which he surrendered after his indictment was announced last year.

(Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Stephen Powell)

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Comments (9)
krimsonpage wrote:
Long term interim? Sounds like a foolish idea. Make peace, or hurry the hell up and slaughter each other. We in the rest of the world are tired of both of you.

Feb 09, 2013 2:41pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Reuters1945 wrote:
@Meqmac

Yes- you are quite correct that it cannot be repeated enough times, as you have done here. But the world will always continue to blame the Jews that they refuse to be banished/swept from the Earth.

The endless attempts to do so have continued for thousands of years and no doubt will continue long into the future.

As for the blatant hypocrisy engendered in all this- no country on planet Earth ever referred to Gaza as being “occupied” during all the decades it was under Egyptian control. And no one ever referred to the so-called “West Bank” as being “occupied” by anyone, during all the years that area was under the sole control of Jordan.

Land is apparently only considered “occupied” when there are Jews present. That is why to the Arabs, all of the State of Israel is considered “occupied” land.

The great eternal question is why the enemies of the Jews still believe they will someday succeed in wiping them from the Earth.

The Jewish people managed to survive for thousands of years when they were effectively defenseless against attack from those who wished to destroy them.

If they nonetheless managed to survive during all those countless centuries when they had next to nothing with which to defend themselves, they will surely find the means now to survive any and all attacks from their many enemies when they have somewhat more than nothing in the area of their numerous means to defend themselves.

The people in the countries surrounding the State of Israel can only dream of possessing the standard of living and legal protections that citizens of Israel possess, whether Arab, Jew, Christian or other.

There is no point in ever debating the issues of the Middle East.

Those who wish to see the State of Israel destroyed will continue to do so regardless of the facts of history. Those that are blind will never see and those that are deaf will never hear.

But the State of Israel will endure and continue to share with the rest of the world, the fruits of its scientific and medical breakthroughs, long after its neighbors have run out of oil, their one and only commodity of any value.

A commodity that in the end, more is the pity, pollutes the air of the Earth just as their boundless hatred of the people of Israel is made to pollute the minds of their innocent children in an endless cycle of violence and despair.

Feb 09, 2013 4:01pm EST  --  Report as abuse
So the whole world is wrong and only Israel is right I think the world,s patience is wearing thin at this point of time.

Feb 09, 2013 7:43pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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