Liberman: Israel needs to adopt pragmatic approach

In implied attack on Netanyahu, FM laments lack of diplomatic initiative, criticizes Israeli officials who antagonize Washington

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman (photo credit: Flash90)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman (photo credit: Flash90)

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman continued to butt heads with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his policies on Monday, warning that Israel was facing an oncoming international diplomatic offensive, calling for pragmatism and seemingly accusing the premier of failing to take the diplomatic initiative during his tenure.

“I wish pragmatism dominated the political discourse in Israeli society. We are torn between autism, pragmatism and fanaticism,” Liberman said at a book launch in Tel Aviv.

The foreign minister ridiculed Israel’s preoccupation with the upcoming general elections as the country faces a Palestinian statehood push at the UN as well as other international action which he deemed hostile.

“This Wednesday, the Palestinians will submit their proposal to the Security Council . Switzerland is convening with signatories of the Geneva Convention to discuss imposing restrictions on our right to defend ourselves,” he said. “Considering these events, we must understand that we are under a tremendous political attack, and all we care about is elections?”

The foreign minister alluded to the much-reported crisis in relations between Washington and Jerusalem, and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon’s harsh criticisms of US officials which has gotten him in hot water recently.

“If you want a veto from the US (in hostile UN proposals) you need to understand that you can’t lash out against it,” Liberman said. “We have to come up with policy recommendations, we cannot be constantly saying no, no, no.

“Within the context of the crisis on the Middle East, it is imperative that Israel initiate solutions and push them forward. We must adopt a pragmatic approach, because without it, it won’t matter if we’re right.”

On Sunday Liberman accused his erstwhile partners in the Likud party of being “hysterical, just like the Jewish Home [party],” for asserting that a vote for the hawkish foreign minister’s party in the March 2015 elections would bring about a left-wing government.

The Likud statements came after Liberman on Saturday said his party was not ruling out joining a government coalition headed by Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni of the joint Labor-Hatnua list, following March 2015’s election.

Various media reports have indicated that Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party may cooperate with Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid and Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu parties in the upcoming election, though the parties have said they did not intend to merge.

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