Israel's Defense Chief: Talks With Palestinians Hopeless, We Must Act Unilaterally

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Avigdor Lieberman speaks at an Israel Television News Company event in Jerusalem, September 3, 2018.
Avigdor Lieberman speaks at an Israel Television News Company event in Jerusalem, September 3, 2018.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Monday that he has no hopes of reaching a negotiated agreement with the Palestinians, and that Israel must act unilaterally.

Speaking at an Israel Television News Company event, Lieberman said that "all negotiations have led us to a dead end" and that Israel must "take responsibility and shape its policy on its own." Lieberman added that when he meets officials from Arab countries, "they are never the ones to bring up the Palestinian issue. It just doesn't interest them."

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Lieberman praised the way in which the U.S. fights terror: "First they impose economic sanctions and economic leverage and only then [acts] militarily." The defense chief states he too wants to pressure the Gaza Strip economically: "Any Gazan who is concerned about his livelihood must understand that anyone engaging in terrorism is hurting that livelihood. Economic leverage that isn't backed up with military leverage is not enough."

When asked about Iranian threats, Lieberman said that "Israel does not limit itself to Syria. We will deal with any Iranian threat, no matter where it comes from." Lieberman's comments come days after Iran reportedly deployed missiles in Iraq capable of reaching Israel.

Later that day, the White House took the Palestinian Authority to task for its refusal to be involved in efforts to reach an agreement on restoring calm to Gaza. The statement and its timing - shortly after Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi had spoken to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas about Gaza - are indications that the Trump administration and Egypt are attempting to ratchet up the pressure on Abbas to support an agreement and to have the Palestinian Authority gradually reassume responsibility for the Strip.

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