Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman lashed out at Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday and defended Israel’s announcement of 3,000 new housing units in Jerusalem and the West Bank.
“You cannot change international commitments,” said Liberman, referring to the Palestinians’ achievement of an upgraded status at the UN, to that of a non-member observer state, less than 24 hours earlier. He was speaking at the Saban Forum in Washington, D.C.
He said the PA’s UN bid was meant to serve as a diversion from its failed domestic policies — claiming that Hamas “is more effective, and has more political will and determination, than Abbas.”
The foreign minister said Israel still stands behind a two-state solution — which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu laid out in his famous Bar Ilan University address three years ago, he noted — and is ready to restart peace negotiations, but “without any preconditions.” He said the PA began placing conditions on Israel — including the demand that Jerusalem stop construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as a prerequisite for restarting peace negotiations — after the last round of direct talks failed in the fall of 2010.
“We are ready to move forward,” Liberman said, “but we do not know who represents the Palestinians — Hamas or Fatah.”
He also defended Israel’s newly announced plan for building over the Green Line, stating that it wasn’t designed as a provocation but, rather, that “it’s our right to define our capital.”
When asked about the implications of US President Barack Obama’s second term, Liberman answered: “At the end of the day, Israel has only one friend, and that’s America.” Likewise, he said, people know that Israel is their “only friend” in the Middle East.