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Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's Speech to the UN General Assembly

donsutherland1

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Today, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman addressed the UN General Assembly. He called for a two-stage process toward final peace:

1) A long-term interim arrangement to allow for the building of mutual trust over perhaps a period of "a few decades"
2) A final settlement afterward

Excerpts:

The emotional problems are first and foremost the utter lack of confidence between the sides and issues such as Jerusalem, recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish People and refugees. Under these conditions, we should focus on coming up with a long-term intermediate agreement, something that could take a few decades. We need to raise an entire new generation that will have mutual trust and will not be influenced by incitement and extremist messages. To achieve a final status agreement, we must understand that the primary practical obstacle is the friction between the two nations.

As is true everywhere, where there are two nations, two religions and two languages with competing claims to the same land, there is friction and conflict. Countless examples of ethnic conflict around the world confirm this, whether in the Balkans, the Caucuses, Africa, the Far East or the Middle East. Where effective separation has been achieved, conflict has either been avoided, or has been dramatically reduced or resolved. Consider the cases of the former Yugoslav republics, the split-up of Czechoslovakia and the independence of East Timor, as cases in point.

Thus, the guiding principle for a final status agreement must not be land-for-peace but rather, exchange of populated territory. Let me be very clear: I am not speaking about moving populations, but rather about moving borders to better reflect demographic realities.


The complete transcript can be found at:

Permanent Mission of Israel to the UN - General Debate of the 65th General Assembly
 

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In other times I'd think it's hilarious that the foreign minister and the prime minister hold different views in the same time, but right now during the peace process it is pretty much ridiculous.

While Lieberman is not involved in the negotiations and the peace process (The defense minister, Ehud Barak, is instead), it is still essential that the foreign minister would stick to the position of the prime minister and his government instead of that of his party(Yisrael Beitenu), as this situation when every time the foreign minister ends his speech the prime minister needs to make a statement that it doesn't represent him or the government cannot continue.

Things might change though, there are contacts between Kadima and the Likud revolving Kadima's possible joining to the coalition.
Kadima would get to join the government and the Likud would get a more balanced government.
 

donsutherland1

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Just so no one is confused, the FM's speech does not reflect a dramatic change in Israel's negotiating positions. It reflects his own ideas. Following the speech, Prime Minister Netanyahu made clear that the FM's speech does not represent his stance.

Haaretz reported:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded sharply Tuesday to a United Nations address by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman earlier in the day, saying that he, and not the FM, was Israel's chief representative in direct peace talks with the Palestinian Authority.

"Lieberman's address was not coordinated with the prime minister," said a statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office following the speech. "Netanyahu is the one handling the negotiations on Israel's behalf. The various issues surrounding a peace agreement will be discussed and decided only at the negotiating table, and nowhere else."
 

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And just so I'll be clear on my previous comment, it's not that I find his opinions to be extreme, his opinions are moderate and they do promote a legitimate and peaceful solution to the conflict, but the government has a different solution and he should stick to the government's solution instead of promoting his own, especially when the speech is in the UN general assembly and he's supposed to be talking about Israel's view.
 

donsutherland1

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And just so I'll be clear on my previous comment, it's not that I find his opinions to be extreme, his opinions are moderate and they do promote a legitimate and peaceful solution to the conflict, but the government has a different solution and he should stick to the government's solution instead of promoting his own, especially when the speech is in the UN general assembly and he's supposed to be talking about Israel's view.
I understood you. I believe that it is important that the government speak with a consistent voice. A course in which various ministers are at odds over official policy can only be self-defeating.
 

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I agree with some of the statements made about the need for all Politicians to be speaking from the same page, yet find it interesting that people tend to criticize FM Leiberman for his comments while ignoring the comments of DM Barak.

Just a few days ago, in a speech to the GA, Barak stated that Israel should agree to divide the Capital Jerusalem. When this statement was made, there was no criticism, and yet this is against Israeli government policy.

Why does Leiberman get criticized, but Barak gets a free pass? Is it because Barak is a student of the Left, who is willing to accept the demands of the International Community and cede Jerusalem, the 3000 year old, reunited Capital of Israel, and because Leiberman on the other hand, is a student of the right, who believes that Israel should stand up for itself, and stop catering to every demand of the International Community who honestly hates Israel and Jews, openly?

FM Leiberman is a breathe of fresh air, willing to say the truth, even when it is not the will of the International Community, or politically correct. Leiberman is the only politician in Israel that speaks the truth even when the truth is unpopular. Leiberman should be the person conducting the talks with the Palestinians, but since he came into office on a platform including an oath of Loyalty to the State of Israel, he was immediately deemed a racist by the Palestinians, and rejected by the International Community as a Right Wing, Warmongering Hawk, when really, he is just a realist.

He will become the next Prime Minister of Israel, and then the International Community will be forced to deal with him, or Israel will be rejected by the rest of the International Community, while the United States, will continue to support them, even if Barack Obama wants to drop them like a bad habit. That is the beauty of the overwhelming majority of American citizens that rightly side with Israel in this ongoing conflict.
 

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I agree with some of the statements made about the need for all Politicians to be speaking from the same page, yet find it interesting that people tend to criticize FM Leiberman for his comments while ignoring the comments of DM Barak.
The criticism likely stems from a number of factors. First, the speech was not coordinated with the Prime Minister. Second, the speech's content may conflict with Israel's negotiating positions/strategy. Consistency is important. Third, the speech could undermine Prime Minister Netanyahu's credibility. The PM has publicly suggested that a deal could be concluded in a year. Lieberman expects it to take several decades. That disparity in positions could raise concerns about the PM's credibility (whether he really believes a deal can be concluded within a year, whether Israel's government may not have the desire to push toward a rapid final settlement--something that could raise new frictions between Israel and the U.S./international community, whether the PM's government is capable of reaching/implementing an agreement if key players are not on board, etc.
 

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Today, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman addressed the UN General Assembly. He called for a two-stage process toward final peace:

1) A long-term interim arrangement to allow for the building of mutual trust over perhaps a period of "a few decades"
2) A final settlement afterward
temporary truce...wasn't that the unacceptable idea proposed by the Hamas?

As for the rest of the speech, yes, if the settler's population wasn't growing so fast it could be a good idea.
 
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The criticism likely stems from a number of factors. First, the speech was not coordinated with the Prime Minister.
Was DM Baraks speech coordinated with the Prime Minister?

Second, the speech's content may conflict with Israel's negotiating positions/strategy. Consistency is important.
Again, did DM Barak's speech conflict with Israel's negotiating position/strategy? It is the position of the Left Parties, Labor (Barak), Kadima (Livni) and Meretz (Nobody) that Israel must give in to all demands of not only the Palestinians, but also the International Community. When elections were held, these positions were rejected by the citizens of Israel, and Bibi was given the mandate to form a government. Likud (Netanyaho), Israel Beitanu(?sp) (Leiberman), and Shas, the governing coalition ran on a platform opposite of the Left Parties ran on. They were tired of giving land, prisoners, control, etc... to the Palestinians, and getting nothing in return. This the will of the citizens of Israel. But, one position that was equal to all was the rejection of dividing Jerusalem.

Third, the speech could undermine Prime Minister Netanyahu's credibility. The PM has publicly suggested that a deal could be concluded in a year.
Does Bibi really believe that a deal could be concluded in a year? Just because he said so does not mean that he actually believes it. Do you believe a peace deal could emerge within a year? Does anyone who has followed this conflict for any length of time believe a peace deal could be concluded within a year?

This goes back to what I said earlier about Leiberman speaking the truth even when it is not popular. Realism verses placating the International Community. The International Community wants this conflict resolved yesterday, so they want to hear that not only can it be done, but it can be done within X time. Do any of them really believe the statements being made?

Lieberman expects it to take several decades.
There is that realism again. Maybe he is overexagerating the length of time necessary to come to an accord, but he knows as well as everyone else that Peace is not possible within a year. He is the only person with enough courage to say so publicly though.

That disparity in positions could raise concerns about the PM's credibility (whether he really believes a deal can be concluded within a year, whether Israel's government may not have the desire to push toward a rapid final settlement--something that could raise new frictions between Israel and the U.S./international community, whether the PM's government is capable of reaching/implementing an agreement if key players are not on board, etc.
As for friction between the US and Israel, it already exists, and has existed since the day Barack Obama went to Cairo to make a speech to appease the Arab World. Barack Obama hates Israel, although he could never say so publicly.
 
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donsutherland1

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temporary truce...wasn't that the unacceptable idea proposed by the Hamas?

As for the rest of the speech, yes, if the settler's population wasn't growing so fast it could be a good idea.
A key difference is that FM Lieberman also calls ultimately for a final settlement. Hamas does not advocate a peace treaty. However, in practical terms, FM Lieberman's speech represents his views, not Israel's official positions e.g., PM Netanyahu disavowed the speech.
 

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Was DM Baraks speech coordinated with the Prime Minister?
Prime Minister Netanyahu's office gave no indications that it was not. As the Defense Minister is involved in the negotiations, it is probably more likely than not that he had coordinated what he would say. That does not mean that the Prime Minister supports everything in the speech.

But, one position that was equal to all was the rejection of dividing Jerusalem.
To date, the Prime Minister has rejected division of Jerusalem. But past Israeli governments headed by Prime Ministers Barak and Olmert had agreed to cede Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem. It remains to be seen whether Prime Minister Netanyahu would ultimately accept such a solution. Alternatives for addressing the East Jerusalem issue include a sharing of sovereignty (avoids division and Palestinians can also claim a "capital" there). My guess is that it is the Prime Minister's strong preference and desire to avoid dividing Jerusalem.

Does Bibi really believe that a deal could be concluded in a year? Just because he said so does not mean that he actually believes it. Do you believe a peace deal could emerge within a year? Does anyone who has followed this conflict for any length of time believe a peace deal could be concluded within a year?
He may or may not. But for purposes of pursuing the current round of talks and minimizing frictions with the U.S./international community, he needs to be credible in taking such a posture.

As for me, I do not. As I see it, the differences are too great, the store of trust is insufficient, rejectionists such as the Hamas terrorist organization still have a capability to undermine progress, the Palestinian leadership has been unwilling to abandon its maximum demand of a Palestinian "right of return" to Israel, etc.

I believe a step-by-step process with one or more interim agreements would probably offer a better route toward an eventual final settlement. Such a process would allow for a building of trust, create a new co-existence narrative, etc. It worked well in the Egypt-Israel peace process. I cannot understate the importance the initial agreements mediated by Dr. Kissinger had in laying the groundwork for President Sadat's Jerusalem trip, Camp David, and then the 1979 peace treaty.

This goes back to what I said earlier about Leiberman speaking the truth even when it is not popular. Realism verses placating the International Community. The International Community wants this conflict resolved yesterday, so they want to hear that not only can it be done, but it can be done within X time. Do any of them really believe the statements being made?
I was only speaking about the differences between PM Netanyahu and FM Lieberman concerning the speech. Clearly, the international community has its own perceptions, shaped in large part by differing interests. Any Israeli government must ensure that Israel's vital interests are safeguarded, even if that is inconvenient for some international players. No country can willfully sacrifice vital interests for the political expediency of other states. I do believe a peace framework could accommodate the core needs of the parties without sacrificing Israel's vital interests. But a lot of work is required to get such an agreement. As noted above, I don't believe a final settlement can be reached within a year. I do believe a decent interim agreement and even framework that provides guidance may be attainable if the Palestinians also demonstrate good faith, reasonable flexibility, etc.
 
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