Lieberman: Israel has worked to achieve peace since its creation
FM praises Israel's achievements to foreign diplomats; Lieberman to visit EU next week in first trip as FM.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Wednesday congratulated Israel on its 61rst anniversary, telling foreign diplomats that since the beginning of its existence, "Israel has worked hard to achieve peace."
"It's no secret that these are difficult times here in Israel, filled with constant security threats... We signed a peace treaty with Egypt, with Jordan and have made great efforts to try and reach an agreement with the Palestinians," Lieberman said during a reception held for the diplomats at the President's residence in Jerusalem.
"Despite the circumstances, the people of Israel live and achieve wonderful things. You live here and witness the state of Israel making significant contributions to industries such as technology, medicine, agriculture and education. Israelis have received world-wide recognition and have won Nobel prizes for economic achievements, peace, chemistry and literature, among others," the foreign minister said.
"Even in sports," Lieberman added, "our Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team has won the Euro League championship several times."
"In today's financial world crisis, the state of Israel is doing relatively well. Heads of states arrive here, the pope is coming next month, and thousands of tourists come to experience the spirituality of the holy land," the foreign minister went on to say.
"In my eyes, Israel is the land of opportunities. My personal story is a testament to that. I arrived in Israel in 1978 as a new immigrant. I started out as a student and remember studying for my exams in a security booth right here, outside of the president's residence years ago. And today, I stand before you as the foreign minister of Israel. This can only attest to the strength and unity of the Israeli society and to the chances that are available to those who wish to explore them," Lieberman told the diplomats.
"I hope that this new government will inspire the people of Israel and manage to create a dramatic change for them as well as the other nations in our region. With God's help, and yours, we will attain our objectives of security, stability, prosperity and an end to the conflict," he concluded.
Meanwhile, Lieberman was scheduled to embark on his first trip abroad as foreign minister next Tuesday, with stops in Rome, Paris and Berlin.
During his trip, Lieberman was expected to raise Israel's concerns over Iran's nuclear aspirations and to ask his hosts to prepare for the possibility of the breakdown of future dialogue between Iran and the U.S., and international pressure may become necessary.
Lieberman was also to ask his hosts to prevent the freezing of a planned upgrade of ties between Israel and the European Union, which several voices within the EU have called for in response to Israel's policy.
It is not yet clear what Lieberman's message on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be, as Israel's new government, headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has yet to formulate its official policy.