Photo: EPA
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman
Photo: EPA

Lieberman's peace plan woos centrists: Regional peace is possible, even at expense of Greater Israel

With rumors of elections rife, Foreign Minister Lieberman lays out relatively moderate plan for ending Israel-Palestinian conflict, says 'unified people is more important than unified land'.

Yisrael Beiteinu leader Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has recently finished work on a document detailing his party's platform - in preparation of early elections, which though far from certain, have been omnipresent in Israeli politics of late.



The document, titled "Going Against the Stream – Yisrael Beiteinu's Vision", details the party's ideological and practical position on ending Israel's conflict with the Palestinians and covers a range of issues from territorial concessions to offering Israeli Arabs financial incentives to leave the country.


He will present the document to the EU foreign minister in a conference in Basel next week, and then again in a number of international forums.


According to Lieberman,  Israel must change its direction (Photo: Gil Yohanan) (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
According to Lieberman, Israel must change its direction (Photo: Gil Yohanan)


The "Regional Peace Plan", as the document dubs it, marks the first time Lieberman has clearly and openly articulated a position in the conflict. Though the foreign minister has voiced his opinions on the topic on numerous occasions, including from the UN podium, this is the most complete and coherent policy presentation; it seems to be an attempt to present Lieberman as a pragmatic rightist, electable by Israeli centrists.


In the document, first published by Ynet's sister print edition Yedioth Ahronoth, Lieberman says there is no choice but to give up on the idea of a Greater Israel in return for a comprehensive agreement with the Arab world. Lieberman has long called for talks with Saudi Arabia and other moderate Arab states – as opposed to the Palestinians – as part of a bid to achieve normalization, which he views as Israel's true interest.


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"Without giving up on the dream or principle of the Greater Israel, it is clear to me that we need to reach an educated compromise that will unify the people, which is the most important issue. At the end of the day, the argument about whether the people should be unified or the land – the people trump the land. We cannot compromise on the people and cannot overcome their loss," reads the document.


According to Lieberman, in light of the failures of the past 20 years of negotiations, Israel must change its direction. In chapter entitled "Yisrael Beiteinu's Peace Plan", Lieberman says that Israel should not blame itself for the failure to reach a peace accord, because, he claims, the conflict is not just territorial.


"Unlike the dogmatic positions of other parties, Yisrael Beiteinu understands that the conflict is not only a territorial one with its Palestinians neighbors, but a three-dimensional conflict with Arab nations, the Palestinians and the Israeli Arabs.

"Thus any agreement must include peace with Arab nations, territorial exchanges and (address the issue) of Israeli Arabs," the manifesto reads.


Regarding negotiations, Lieberman writes that recent events have highlighted that contrary to popular assumption, "the Palestinian issue is not the largest problem in the Arab world or at the heart of regional instability." Thus, because of radical groups such as the Islamic State, "conditions have matured so that for the first time an agreement acceptable for Israel can be reached."


Lieberman, one of the most strident voices in favor of the separation of Jews and Arabs, says Palestinians living in Jaffa and Acre, two mixed cities inside Israel, should be encouraged to move if they want to.


'Our approach is based on the teachings of Jabotinsky,' Lieberman writes in document detailing his party's platform (Photo: Nachshon Philipson) (Photo: Nachshon Philipson)
'Our approach is based on the teachings of Jabotinsky,' Lieberman writes in document detailing his party's platform (Photo: Nachshon Philipson)


"Those (Israeli Arabs) who decide that their identity is Palestinian will be able to forfeit their Israeli citizenship and move to become citizens of the future Palestinian state," he writes in the manifesto, published on his Facebook page and his party's website.


"Israel should even encourage them to do so with a system of economic incentives," he says, adding that "any deal should include territorial and population exchanges."


A poll carried out in 2010, after Lieberman addressed the United Nations and set out plans for the borders of a future Palestinian state to be redrawn to include Arab towns in Israel, showed that 58 percent of Israeli Arabs opposed the idea, Reuters reported.


In the introduction, Lieberman lashes out at the Likud, claiming that his party is the only one operating in the spirit of Betar, the youth movement founded by Revisionist Zionist leader Ze'ev Jabotinsky.


"Our approach is based on the teachings of Jabotinsky," he writes. "Although there are other political movements that boast this, we do not change this position depending on the atmosphere of the year and fleeting trends."


In addition, Lieberman revisits the principle of "No loyalty, no citizenship" that was prominent within his party during the last elections.


"There should be no difference in the attitude of the state towards Jews, Christians, Muslims, Druze or others - anyone who is a citizen is subject to the same obligations and rights," he maintains. "But we cannot tolerate with a black flag being waved on Independence Day, or disrespect for the siren on Memorial Day."


A change in the system of government, a subject about which Lieberman has been vocal in the past, is addressed.

"Due to the poor government structure, the country is being run like a business whose executive board members are busy with power struggles, infighting and slandering one other," writes the foreign minister. Among other solutions, Lieberman proposes that Israel should have "ministers who are professionals and not Knesset members."


פרסום ראשון: 11.28.14, 23:44
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