Even a crisis of "historical proportions", as defined by the Israeli ambassador in Washington, will not lead the foreign minister to change his firm stance. "What do they expect us to do? Forbid Jews from building in the east of the city or from buying land there? There will be no discrimination in favor of Arabs," Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Ynet on Tuesday, adding, "We should not get hysterical."
Of the crisis with the US, which currently has no end in sight, Lieberman said, "I wouldn't get so dramatic here. The situation is certainly complicated, but there is no need to get euphoric or hysterical. We have some misunderstandings with the US, this is not the first time, and unfortunately, it won't be the last time either. We have an interest in lowering the flames. One way or another, we certainly have an interest in setting things straight and reaching understandings and we will do this in the customary channels."
Addressing the American demand for a construction freeze in east Jerusalem, the foreign minister described a situation in which Arabs would be prohibited from buying and building in the west of the capital – "They would immediately declare us an apartheid state. And they are also demanding we don't touch the illegal construction in the east of the city, despite verdicts and despite court rulings. I asked an American journalist, can you imagine the US administration not honoring court rulings?
"It must be clear that we cannot only ban Jews from building. This is unacceptable. There will be no discrimination against Jews. We are not looking to do anything out of spite. We do not seek confrontations and we do not wish to provoke anyone. We are asking for understanding of all the steps we have taken so far, from the decision on the moratorium to the removal of checkpoints."
'Brazil's president disrespected our rules'
Lieberman has vowed full coalitional support of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and like the prime minister, said construction in east Jerusalem has been continuous ever since the end of the Six Day War. "We cannot forfeit our sovereignty. A government was elected here, there is a very clear coalition agreement. This is a democratic government that represents the public's opinion, which, by the way, cannot be said of the Palestinian government, which stands on the sidelines showing no willingness to enter talks, and gets whatever it wants from the world."
The FM sees hypocrisy in the international community's attitude. "I don't see any resolve like that which is directed at Israel, not toward North Korea, not toward Iran. And the Palestinian government? This is a government that has no control in the Gaza Strip, where Hamas is in control. This is a government that has postponed elections three times, but the pressure is on us. The world should also take into account and see things for what they are."
Regarding his decision to boycott meetings with visiting Brazilian President Luis Lula da Silva and his speech before the Knesset plenum, Lieberman said he was not the one who created the crisis. "It seems they decided that they do not wish to visit Herzl's grave from the very beginning. A man who is not willing to visit Herzl's grave, but visits Arafat's grave – I cannot accept this. There are rules that have been set by the Foreign Ministry, and they should be respected. However, there is no need to be dramatic in this case either. I think it was a successful visit, successful meetings were held and there were also fruitful talks."