The content of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's address to the UN General Assembly was not coordinated with the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu's office said Tuesday afternoon.
Speaking less than two days after the expiration of the settlement construction moratorium, Lieberman said reaching a comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians "could take decades."
Netanyahu's office clarified that "the prime minister is the one who is heading the negotiations on behalf of the State of Israel. Issues related to the peace process will be discussed and decided on at the negotiation table, not anywhere else."
Defense Minister Ehud Barak clarified that Lieberman's speech at the UN "does not reflect the position of the Israeli government or the Labor Party" and added that it "plays into the enemy's hands."
A statement provided by Barak's office read, "The Labor Party believes continuing negotiations in order to achieve a peace accord with the Palestinians is essential."
Mitchell (L) with Ehud Barak (Photo: Ariel Hermoni)
Minorities Minister Avishay Braverman, also from Labor, called for Lieberman's immediate dismissal. "The FM's comments are delusional and their timing was meant to sabotage the peace process," he said.
During his speech, the foreign minister said, "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," he said.
The opposition was quick to level harsh criticism at Lieberman. "The foreign ministers' comments fundamentally contradict the government's stated policy," Kadima Knesset Member Nachman Shai said.
Fellow Kadima member Shlomo Molla called Lieberman "unrestrained," adding, "It seems that the State of Israel has two prime ministers, and the people don't know which one to believe."
MK Yoel Hasson, also of Kadima, said, "Prime minister A, Netanyahu, is talking about a permanent agreement and two states, prime minister B, Lieberman, is talking about an intermediate agreement and population exchanges, and prime minister C, (Shas chairman Eli) Yishai, doesn't believe in an agreement.
"It appears that Netanyahu is representing his opinion alone. This is proof of Netanyahu's weakness; he can't promote his position among his ministers and collation partners. This is a government without a leader, path or direction," he said.
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