Israel’s Avigdor Lieberman calls for “transfer” —again

Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman prompted the Palestinian mission to walk out of a UN General Assembly meeting Sept. 28 by saying “a long-term intermediate agreement…could take a few decades.” He also called for redrawing the borders of the West Bank. Citing the “utter lack of confidence between Israelis and Palestinians,” Lieberman told UN that any durable solution in the Middle East, as in the Balkans and East Timor, would require the separation of populations. “We should focus on coming up with a long term intermediate agreement, something that could take a few decades… To achieve final status agreement, we must understand that the primary obstacle is the friction between the two nations.” Lieberman added that “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 border to better reflect demographic realities.” This notion, he claimed, has been accepted as a “virtual truism” in the academic community, which has coined the term “re-sizing the state.” (Press TV, Sept. 29; Checkpoint Washington blog, WP, Sept. 28)

The Israeli prime minister’s office responded swiftly: “The content of the foreign ministers speech at the United Nations was not coordinated with the prime minister. Prime Minister Netanyahu is the one managing negotiations in the name of the State of Israel. The issues of a possible peace deal would be discussed around the negotiations table, and nowhere else.” (The Telegraph, Checkpoint Washington, Sept. 28)

Earlier in the month, Lieberman raised the prospect of the transfer of large Arab towns in Israel into a Palestinian state, again saying talks need to deal not with the issue of land for peace “but an exchange of land and people…. This is a subject that we’ve run away from until now but we can’t go on like this. It’s as if someone were selling you an apartment on the condition that his mother-in-law continue living there.” He was largely restating the policy that has helped his party, Yisrael Beiteinu, become the third-largest in Israel. (The Australian, Sept. 21)

See our last posts on Israel/Palestine and the West Bank.

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