Lieberman: Jerusalem is our eternal capital, it will never be divided
FM tells diplomats that Israel has proven many times it is willing to pay a heavy price for peace.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Tuesday that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the State of Israel and that it will never be divided - "neither directly nor indirectly."
Addressing a group of foreign diplomats at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, the foreign minister quoted a speech made by former prime minister Menachem Begin, explaining that Begin's remarks reflected the connection that Jews around the world feel toward Jerusalem - a connection that still exists today.
"Today," he said, "I stand before you in Jerusalem, and confirm Begin's words: the city will remain our capital and will never be divided."
Lieberman stressed that the government of which he is a member seeks peace as long as there is a genuine partner. "The State of Israel has proven time and again that it is prepared to pay a high price for peace with its neighbors and has already evacuated territory three times its size," he said. "We must now create a new reality in the region based on security for Israelis, economic prosperity for Palestinians, and stability for both. Only then will it be possible to negotiate a final agreement between the parties."
The foreign minister also addressed reports of possible future demands on behalf of the U.S. administrations that Israel and the Palestinians make certain moves towards a peace settlement. Earlier this month, U.S. President Barack Obama told French President Nicolas Sarkozy that he was determined to press Israel and the Palestinians to renew negotiations and make confidence-building measures. In response to this, Lieberman said Tuesday that "any attempt to force a solution on us without building a foundation of trust between the two sides will only deepen the conflict. Peace can't be forced - it must be built."
Lieberman's remarks echoed the sentiments voiced by several officials who spoke about the capital in ceremonies marking Memorial Day and Independence Day on Monday and Tuesday. Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said during a ceremony in Jerusalem on Monday that "we won't apologize for the building of Jerusalem our capital."
Rivlin dedicated a significant portion of his speech to the "attack on Jerusalem" and the point of view that sees the residents of the city as "others" which, according to him, makes giving the city up more palatable.