Liberman lambastes ministers for disunity on peace plans

Foreign minister calls on prime minister to formulate single plan and force all coalition members to adopt it

Avigdor Liberman (photo credit: Yoav Ari Dudkevitch/Flash90)
Avigdor Liberman (photo credit: Yoav Ari Dudkevitch/Flash90)

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman called on the government Monday to adopt a single and clear message regarding peace with the Palestinians, raking coalition lawmakers over the coals for presenting a disunified voice in speeches the night before.

“What happened yesterday when four ministers got up one after another, each talking about a different political direction, was a grotesque spectacle,” Liberman said at a conference in Eilat.

Liberman was referring to a series of speeches at the Herzliya Conference on national security on Sunday by ministers from the coalition.

At the gathering, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett advocated for annexing parts of the West Bank; Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar argued in favor of maintaining the status quo; Finance Minister Yair Lapid called for a construction freeze in the settlements and resumption of negotiations with the Palestinians; and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni joined Lapid in threatening to leave the government if it annexes any part of the West Bank.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Photo credit: Emil Salman/POOL/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Photo credit: Emil Salman/POOL/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly supports the idea of a two-state solution, but has been unclear about his intentions regarding settlements. He has at times alluded to unspecified unilateral steps, suggested allowing settlers to choose to remain in a future Palestinian state and reportedly looked into complicated border arrangements that would leave the settlements as Israeli enclaves within Palestinian borders.

He has yet to present a plan for moving forward with the peace process following last week’s formation of a Palestinian unity government with Hamas, with which Israel has refused to negotiate. He did, however, quash Lapid’s proposal. A statement issued by the Prime minister’s Office read: “Anyone with political experience knows that you don’t make concessions without [getting] anything in return.”

Liberman called on Netanyahu to “formulate and adopt a plan that all members of the government would be required to accept.”

“You cannot present government policies like this,” he said.

The foreign minister also touted his Yisrael Beytenu party as the only faction with a clear philosophy on the issue calling for a comprehensive peace plan that includes a resolution on the right of return for refugees, the status of Arab Israelis and the normalization of relations between Israel and the Arab world.

Liberman insisted that Israel is in a strong position to negotiate with the Arabs on these issues because in order to combat threats from Syria, Iran, al-Qaeda and radical Islam and “survive, they must cooperate with [Israel].”

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