Israel must not be tempted to adopt US President Barack Obama's suggestion to declare a two-month settlement construction moratorium, as it may lead to a forced (peace) agreement with the Palestinians and a return to the 1967 borders, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Sunday.
During closed-door discussions with fellow members of his Yisrael Beiteinu party, Lieberman said, "The pressure won’t work. We are not leaving the coalition in order to bolster the majority in government, which is against continuing the settlement construction moratorium."
According to the foreign minister, five, maybe even six Likud ministers - Moshe Yaalon, Yossi Peled, Silvan Shalom, Yuli Edelstein and possibly Gilad Erdan - would vote against Obama's proposal.
"During my recent visit to the US I learned that Washington is planning to force a permanent agreement on Israel – two states for two peoples along the 1967 borders, plus-minus 3 or 4% of the territory exchanged," Lieberman said. "This is the objective of a continued freeze – to give the US and the international community two months to come up with a solution that will be forced on Israel."
According to the FM, in two months' time "The US, along with the Quartet, the Arab League and the Palestinians will tell Israel, 'This is the solution, take it or leave it. If you don't, there is a price – a confrontation with the international community'. Therefore, we must not quit the coalition. It's the only way to solidify a majority against the freeze, which is a decoy."
Securing a Shas approval
Lieberman told the Yisrael Beiteinu members that President Shimon Peres promised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu he would get Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef's approval for a two-month moratorium, but added that Shas was being pressured by its supporters in the West Bank, mainly in Beitar and Emanuel, "who are not willing to hear of another freeze."
The FM said Defense Minister Ehud Barak's support for another moratorium stems from his fear that "in two months his friends from Labor will force him to leave the coalition and lose his portfolio."
Lieberman said Netanyahu's fellow Likud members are also angry with him for "not responding to what Barak is doing."
The FM also spoke of his controversial speech before the UN General Assembly. "Arthur J. Finkelstein told me not to deliver the speech, but I decided otherwise. I decided that I had to speak from the heart, and tell the world the truth as I see it."
Roni Sofer and Attila Somfalvi contributed to the report
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