All Palestinian incitement must be stopped before we resume any negotiations.
[Translated from Russian]
Host: Special emphasize is being placed on what you said at the meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee regarding the funds transferred by Israel to Palestinian Authority accounts, which are used to finance various suits against Israeli politicians and IDF officers.
FM Liberman: There’s more to this. The head of the Palestinian Authority, Prime Minister Salam Fayad, has established a special fund to boycott Israeli products in the world markets and in the West Bank. First, this relates to those produced by settlers, e.g., in Ariel, Ma’ale Adumim or Givat Zeev. Second, the Palestinians are intensely promoting an academic boycott of Israel in all universities around the world. Third, the Palestinian Authority, and Salam Fayad personally, are behind many lawsuits against our high ranking officials, IDF officers, and security people, filed with various international entities, like the Hague tribunal or courts in England and Spain, which are bound by international law.
That’s where the Palestinian Authority stands, not to mention resolutions brought to the attention of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, or UN resolutions filed on behalf of the Palestinians through the Arab League or Arab countries. This is totally unacceptable. We have to put it clearly – all incitement must be stopped before we resume any negotiations.
Host: Is this what you propose?
FM Liberman: This is just a part of my proposals. The second – there was an extended three hour meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on a wide range of issues. And there has been a lot of talk about final settlement. Such an attitude seems cynical to me. For 16 long years after the Oslo accords were signed and until Netanyahu returned as Prime Minister, nobody has reached any final settlement despite all those far-reaching concessions offered by Barak and Olmert. They both offered the boundaries of 1967 and a divided Jerusalem. Moreover, they were ready to negotiate refugees. We all remember our unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and where that has taken us.
Host: By the way, yesterday former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that he was ready to divide Jerusalem according to its population.
FM Liberman: He was ready to withdraw to the 1967 boundaries. And that’s why this is unacceptable. It has to be crystal clear – concession of land will never settle our conflict. To the contrary, this may only result in more demands. Those who believe that our conflict with the Palestinians can be settled by territorial compromise could have achieved it within the last 16 years, but unfortunately they haven’t.
Host: So what do you propose?
FM Liberman: Our program is crystal clear. This is exchange of land and population. We need to understand that a dialogue has to be maintained. Hoping for a rapid settlement of this conflict means misleading public opinion and fooling ourselves. Territorial disputes do not mean an armed conflict. There are lots of territorial disputes between various countries worldwide. Russia and Japan are still discussing the status of the Kurile Islands. However, this does not prevent them from maintaining contacts, cooperation, and normal dialogue. This is also true for England and Argentina. There’s still an open issue over the Falkland Islands, with each party claiming its sovereignty there. This is all settled at the international level, while the countries maintain a normal relationship.
Host: We are not speaking about states here. Your examples relate to two countries, while we are talking about an establishment which has no state status.
FM Liberman: Two parties can always have a normal relationship. With regard to our relations with the Palestinians, we find ourselves here in a stormy sea, trying to create an outpost of stability in the middle of endless tsunamis, commotions, and earthquakes. Just look at the entire region, it’s ablaze. I’m talking about Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan. Nearly all of the Middle East – from Somalia to Afghanistan – is in turmoil. We are not alone in this world. Unfortunately, I have to emphasize that while this conflict was born as a conflict between nations and states, today it’s all about religion. I mean a complicated conflict between Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq. This is also true for Yemen – we all know that the main source of instability is either Al Qaeda or the Taliban or the Muslim Brotherhood. Therefore the main problem of Abu Mazen in the Palestinian Authority is Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, not Israel. So today we cannot say that this most complicated conflict, with us in the heart of it, can be settled by territorial compromise… I believe this is naive and unrealistic.
Host: So, speaking about this stormy sea, I think we have to focus on developing programs such as fortification of buildings to withstand earthquakes.
FM Liberman: Absolutely. We need to strengthen security while maintaining our dialogue. And only afterwards conditions for signing a peace agreement and final settlement can be created. Any attempt to impose peace, hoping that security and economic prosperity will follow, is wrong. First we have to ensure security and economic prosperity, and peace comes afterwards.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Liberman on Israel television Channel 9:
FM Liberman: The current Middle East conflict is not national; it is first and foremost a religious conflict, and it is impossible to solve a religious conflict through territorial concessions. I will formulate it more clearly: territorial concessions cannot bring us to a final solution. They could serve as one of the components of the solution, but are not enough to settle the conflict completely.