WASHINGTON – Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman
addressed US Secretary of State John Kerry's
optimism in regards to a political breakthrough with the Palestinians and said: "We are at a dead end". In an appearance Friday night at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy conference, the foreign minister said he "doesn't see a chance to achieve a comprehensive agreement."
"There may have been something dramatic that I don't know about. My feeling is that there is great desire but I don't think it's possible. It is not easy to bridge the gaps. We are not even close to a deal, not even an interim one. That is my estimate," stressed the foreign minister, who is not directly involved in the negotiations.
On Friday, moments before leaving Israel,
Kerry said: "I believe we are closer than we have been in years in bringing about the peace and prosperity and security that all the people in this region deserve and have been yearning for."
Lieberman will meet with Kerry in Washington on Sunday. This meeting is particularly significant since the previous secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, refused to meet with Lieberman more than twice.
Lieberman at Saban Forum convention (Photo: Shachar Azran)
(Photo: Shachar Azran)
Lieberman said that talks with the Palestinians should not have a starting point of discussing security and refugees, "but rather (start with) something simple like trust and reliability. The trust between the two sides is non-existent. It is hard to make peace when you don't believe the other side."
"It is vital to continue the dialogue. Even if you don't solve the conflict you should have it. For that I thank Kerry, who keeps the process alive. We live in the same region and it is vital to maintain coexistence. We appreciate the efforts, but we mustn't create expectations. If you create expectations and don't succeed, you create frustration. It is a prolonged process, not a short one," said Lieberman.
The foreign minister added: "I am not in favor of a (population) transfer. I am in favor of an exchange of territory. I accept the Bar Ilan speech. If I were sure that a comprehensive agreement and a stable peace could be achieved I would evacuate my settlement and my home. The problem is that I don't see a chance of achieving a comprehensive agreement."
In regards to the relations with the US Lieberman said: "There is no substitute for the US, but we need to guard ourselves and not rely on the US. You have enough of a headache without Israel. You have too many challenges. In addition to the US, and not in its place, we must diversify our policy, be creative."
On the topic of the difference of opinion with the US regarding the Iranian
issue, Lieberman believes that "the public differences between us must be cooled off."
US President Barack Obama is expected to speak at the Saban Forum conference on Saturday. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
will too speak at the convention on Sunday through a video telecast from Jerusalem.
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