Saturday

4th Feb 2023

Israel: 'Fix Kosovo first before telling us what to do'

  • Mr Lieberman suggested that Europe is sacrificing Israel the way it abandoned Czechoslovakia in 1939 (Photo: the half-blood prince)

Israel's foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman of the hard-right nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party, has bluntly told the foreign ministers of Spain and France to fix problems in Europe before telling Israel what to do, according to reports in the local press.

"Solve your own problems in Europe before you come to us with complaints. Maybe then I will be open to accepting your suggestions," he told France's Bernard Kouchner and Spain's Miguel Angel Moratinos at a dinner on Sunday evening (10 October) in Jerusalem.

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Mr Lieberman said that after Europe had solved conflicts in the Caucasus as well as the ongoing disputes over Cyprus and Kosovo, then the Jewish state "will listen to your advice," reports the conservative Jerusalem Post.

He also suggested that Europe is sacrificing Israel the way it abandoned Czechoslovakia in 1939.

"In 1938 Europe placated Hitler, sacrificing Czechoslovakia instead of supporting it, and gained nothing from it," he said, according to Haaretz, the left-leaning Israeli daily.

"We will not be the Czechoslovakia of 2010, we will stand up for Israel's vital interests."

Mr Lieberman suggested that the international community was trying to compensate for its failures elsewhere in the world by pushing for a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

"What about the struggle in Somalia, North Korea, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan and Sudan?" he continued.

"Instead of talking now with the Arab League about the future of a referendum in Sudan, or discussing the explosive situation in Iraq in 2012, the international community is applying great pressure on Israel."

The strong words came as Mr Kouchner reportedly signalled that the creation of a Palestinian state may have to come via the United Nations Security Council if peace negotiations falter.

In an interview with Palestinian paper Al-Ayyam, the French minister said that Paris would prefer a two-state solution to be agreed by both sides, but that the former option could not be ruled out.

"We want to be able to soon welcome the state of Palestine to the United Nations. This is the hope and the desire of the international community, and the sooner that can happen the better," he said.

"The international community cannot be satisfied with a prolonged deadlock. I therefore believe that one cannot rule out in principle the Security Council option," he said.

"But the establishment of the Palestinian state must come as a result of the peace process and be the fruit of bilateral negotiations."

The two ministers also met with President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, defence minister Ehud Barak and Tzipi Livni, a former foreign minister and leader of the opposition centrist Kadima party.

The other government leaders told the two Europeans that the international community must be flexible over the issue of a freeze on the construction of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The Israeli government has refused to extend a 10-month partial freeze that ended in September on new settlement building, illegal under international law.

Over the weekend, Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas said to Arab foreign ministers that his side would consider a request before the UN Security Council if the peace talks collapse as a result of the settlement issue.

The Israeli defence minister, Ehud Barak, of the centre-left Labour Party, was reportedly more cordial with the two European ministers.

"They both take a lot of time working towards a real European contribution to peace between Israel and the Palestinians," he said.

"I know that they are both friends of Israel, and they are respected by the Palestinians and throughout the Arab world. Therefore, they can really help."

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