Lieberman: Comprehensive Peace With Palestinians Impossible, Conflict Must Be Managed

Former Foreign Minister says Yair Lapid to be offered Finance Ministry and welcomes Tzipi Livni as a potential coalition member.

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Former Foreign Minister MK  Avigdor Lieberman said in an interview with Channel 2 on Saturday that Israel will agree to peace negotiations "any given time and at any place without preconditions." Lieberman added, however, that a comprehensive peace deal with the Palestinians is impossible. "The conflict must be managed," he said, adding that a long-term intermediate agreement should be negotiated. "The ball is in Abu Mazen's court," he said, referring to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Lieberman also responded to reports that Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid is interested in being appointed as Israel's next foreign minister. "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be in charge of the Foreign Ministry until the legal procedures (in Lieberman's case) are concluded," he said.

Referring to Lapid's election slogan, "where is the money?" Lieberman said that "whoever is asking where the money is should go after the money, the money is in the Finance Ministry, not in the Foreign Ministry."

When asked about his trial, scheduled to begin on Sunday, February 17, Lieberman only voiced confidence he would be acquitted, refusing to repeat a promise he has made in the past - not to serve in the cabinet in case he is convicted, even if the court does not attach turpitude ruling to his sentence.

Lieberman was indicted last December on charges of fraud and breach of trust for his alleged involvement in the appointment of Ze'ev Ben Aryeh as Israel's ambassador to Latvia after the latter informed the former minister of confidential information concerning an investigation against Lieberman.

During the interview, Lieberman accused his former deputy at the Foreign Ministry, Danny Ayalon, who was not included in the party's ticket in the recent election, of dishonesty. Lieberman said Ayalon only turned against him after Lieberman, head of Yisrael Beiteinu party, informed him he is not running in the election.

"Danny Ayalon talked highly of me, and a day after [I dismissed him] everything changed. I haven't heard from him since, only from police investigators." Lieberman said that the fact Ayalon changed his mind "proves my decision was right."

After he was ousted from the Knesset list it was reported that Ayalon gave the police information concerning Lieberman's case. According to reports, Ayalon's testimony further complicated Lieberman’s situation. 

Avigdor Lieberman at a press conference, January 2013.Credit: Emil Salman