Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman acts like he’s an independent consultant agency on strategic matters. Or maybe he’s a security commentator, another talking head seeking airtime.
On Friday evening Lieberman contributed another chapter of his security philosophy. In an interview on Channel 2 he revealed: “I’ve presented to the cabinet a model for defeating Hamas. It doesn’t have to take a month-and-a-half, not even a week-and-a-half. It’s a model I think can be applied.”
The minister didn’t elaborate on the magical solution that will make Hamas raise the white flag. Does he propose occupying Gaza? Taking out the organization’s political leaders? Or does he merely intend to undermine the way the operation is being managed by the prime minister and the military?
But in the interview, along with his usual remarks about defeating Hamas, Lieberman proposed adopting the Arab peace initiative, which he termed the Saudi peace initiative, apparently because the original did not address Palestinian refugees. The Israel government has been ignoring the Arab peace initiative for more than 12 years, and now the right-wing Lieberman is suggesting that Israel negotiate over a Palestinian state within adjusted 1967 lines and dividing Jerusalem.
Lieberman shares this position with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who said in an interview with Akiva Eldar at Haaretz’s Israel Conference on Peace that he accepts the Arab peace initiative as a basis for negotiations.
Lieberman said Friday that Abbas is irrelevant to the resolution of the crisis because “he did not deliver the goods” in previous rounds of talks. And Hamas is a terror group that must be utterly defeated. So with whom does Lieberman plan to make a package deal?
And if he’s relying on the Arab countries and not the Palestinians, we have no choice but to ask: Which Arab countries would discuss a diplomatic solution with Israel when the government’s policy is to increase the number of settlements in the West Bank? Is Lieberman, of militant tone and go-all-the-way doctrine, familiar with a key principle of the Arab peace initiative – full withdrawal from the territories occupied by Israel?
If Lieberman is serious, he must challenge the prime minister, who a few days ago pledged a new diplomatic horizon. He must bring the Arab peace initiative up for a discussion and vote by the cabinet.
If Lieberman succeeds and the Netanyahu government adopts the proposal, this will be a turning point in Israel’s foreign policy. If Lieberman fails, he must topple the government and launch an election platform based on the Arab peace initiative. In this way he would justify, albeit regrettably late, his position as foreign minister.
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