Thursday, December 23, 2010

An Interview With Israeli FM Avigdor Lieberman

Newsweek has an interview with IsraeliForeign Minister Avigdor Lieberman by Dan Ephron that bears reading. My comments are in red:

You’re not a big believer in “territory for peace.” We began the Oslo process 17 years ago, in 1993, and we’re still in a deadlock. The right approach is not peace for territory but exchanging territory and populations.

Which is exactly how every other conflict like this has been solved in the past.

Does [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu support that idea? I don’t know, but I can guess that all the right wing, including all of Likud, and maybe the majority of the Labor Party [support it].

You’re talking about drawing a line so that how many Israeli Arabs will no longer be part of Israel? At least half.

Polls suggest that 90 percent or more of Israeli Arabs don’t want that. You have 20 percent of the population that’s the Arab minority. You have 80 percent that’s Jewish. From 80 percent of the Jewish population, 70 percent support this idea.

The polls confirm that, by the way.

So even if a resident of [the Israeli Arab town] Umm al-Fahm, for instance, doesn’t want to become part of Palestine, if a majority in the country says he has to, he has no choice? He can continue to live in his property, his house, his land [and become a citizen of Palestine], or he can move to Israel.

I disagree somewhat with Lieberman here. Far better to exchange populations than give up more territory. Also, the borders become somewhat awkward if a part of the Northern Galilee get lopped off of Israel ( thinning the country's neck) but an Israeli presence continues in the Jordan Valley, which is something that is strategically necessary.

But most Israeli Arabs, the vast majority, have been loyal citizens of Israel. Every day, every week, you have another case of Israeli Arabs that are taking part in terrorist activity. You have the leaders of the Israeli Arabs, their intellectual and municipal leaders, saying they will never recognize Israel as a Jewish and Zionist state.

What about the argument that all this talk about taking away their Israeli citizenship or forcing them to sign loyalty oaths—that those are the things that alienate Israeli Arabs and turn them against Israel? What we’re trying to do is stop this phenomenon of people enjoying all the advantages of a democratic country but refusing to be integrated. They don’t want to adopt our values. It’s like in the 1930s. Everyone understood who Hitler was, but everybody tried to avoid this reality.

Who are you comparing to Hitler? [President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad, the Iranian threat—it’s exactly like Hitler.

But the world is not appeasing Iran. There are sanctions against Iran. There’s talk about a military option. There’s a recognition universally that Iran is a problem. Exactly like in the ’30s. Everyone knew that Hitler was a problem, and the Western world sacrificed Czechoslovakia. Not enough sanctions [have been imposed] to prevent them from acquiring nuclear capability.

Are you saying you believe Iran is going to get a nuclear bomb, that we just have to learn to live with that idea? Of course it is.

You were appointed to oversee a committee that looks at what happens the day after Iran gets the bomb. We asked ourselves once they achieve a nuclear bomb, what will be the next step? It’s clear that the first step will be occupation, de facto or de jure, of the Gulf countries.

And then what? Saudi Arabia, of course, to topple this dynasty from power.

Exactly why the Saudis are willing to let the Israelis overfly their territory to take out Iran's nukes. Obama and SecDef Robert Gates are the holdup.

Where is Israel in that scenario? We’re next, you know. It’s like Hitler. First there was Czechoslovakia and afterwards Poland. But after that the Jews paid the heaviest price.

What about the argument that Iran is a rational country? Its leaders want to survive, they want to continue being leaders, and therefore you can deter them. In the last five years, I met everyone who met Ahmadinejad. And the impression of all of them was that it’s a clear case of a crazy fanatic guy, charismatic but very radical, with his crazy idea to export the Islamic revolution, to convert all the Christians and Jews and even the Muslims to the Shia. For Ahmadinejad and for the Supreme Leader [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei], it’s not a game.

I'm amazed that even someone writing for Newsweak would use th eword 'rational' to describe Ahmadinejad and Khamenei.

You’ve talked about taking decades to implement any peace deal with the Palestinians. Why would it take all that time? It’s a very, very complicated agenda.

And Fatah likes the status quo just fine since the aid money keeps coming in and enriching them.

The other side sees that as an excuse to get out of making the tough decisions. It’s not. The Palestinians, when they speak in a closed meeting with you, they understand we’re not the enemy. The only one they can trust at the end of the day is Israel. What you have in the Middle East is tension not between Jews and Arabs, not between Israelis and Palestinians, but between the radical wing and the moderate people. The biggest threat for [Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam] Fayyad and [PA President] Abu Mazen is not Israel, it’s Hamas and [Islamic] Jihad.

I certainly hope Lieberman is correct in saying that the Pals realize that Israel is the only country they can trust. Certainly the other Arab nations have killed and expelled a lot more Arabs than Israel ever has, especially Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon.

But the legacy of Arafat is a strong one, and Islam, as always is a major factor. I have my doubts on how trustworthy the Palestinians are, no matter what they might do or say.

People see you as the radical, certainly in the Israeli context. I am the mainstream. When I started with my vision, I was really a small minority. Today we’re the third [largest] party in Israel.

Netanyahu has talked about the possibility of reaching an agreement with the Palestinians within a year. I think it’s clear to everybody today that it’s impossible. It’s not a realistic vision.

The idea that’s been floated about the Palestinians going to the Security Council and asking for recognition of a state in the 1967 borders—can you imagine a scenario where the U.S. does not veto that? The moment they declare their independence without any agreement with us, not as a result of negotiations, all the understandings we achieved, all the agreements we signed since Oslo, will be nullified. I think they have much more to lose than Israel from this step.

Bingo. In fact, I hope the Pals do exactly that, because it will end this farce once and for all.

(hat tip and a commendation to Joshua's Army member Dan F.)

please helps me write more gooder!


B.Poster said...

"Who are you comparing to Hitler?" Actually the threat posed by Amadinejad and Iran is far greater than the threat Hitler and Nazi Germany ever posed or ever could have posed. At least Nazi Germany never posed the threat to America that Iran does. While the threat is greater, it is not exactly the same threat. As such, different strategies may be needed to deal with it than the ones used to deal with Nazi Germany.

"But the world is not appeasing Iran..." Uh excused me. What planet is this interviewer living on? For the most part, the world supports Iran against America. Any sanctions are a joke. For the most part, the world community believes the Americans "have it coming." If we want sanctions that have teeth or a viable military option against Iran, we must do SOMETHING to change the narrative on this fight. Right now the primary thing we need to worry about is an Iranian attack on America not the other way around, as this media nut job would have us beleive. The very beginning of this statement indicates the man conducting the interview is not to be taken seriously. It must have been hard for the Israeli to sit there and listen to that stupid statement.

You write: "exactly why the Saudis are willing to let the Israelis overfly their territory to take out Iran's nukes. Obama and SecDef Robert Gates are the holdup." Actually this is likely incorrect. I'm aware wikileaks reports this also. Either the wikileaks files were altered by the leakers or its a trap being set by the Arabs in coordination with the Iranians. In otherwords when the Israelis move to attack the trap is sprung. Furthermore SecDef Gates and Pres Obama are incapable of holding this up. Certain parties may be using them as an excuse for inaction. While their is friction between Shia and Sunni, the despise America and Israel more than they dislike one another. As such, they will gladly work together to fight common enemies. Once common enemies are vanquished, there willl be plenty of time to resume their conflict with each other. Finally, in any Isaeli attack or action against Iran, America will be assumed to be responsible even though the nation isn't and the American mainland or at least American interests world wide will be attacked by Iranian forces.

"What about the notion Iran is a rational country...?" Most people around the world believe this. The Americans "have it coming." I'm not suggesting I agree with this line of thinking, however, if we want tough action against Iran, we are going to need support. To get this support, we MUST do SOMETHING to change the generally accepted narrative on this fight.

You point out that Fatah likes the status quo. I agree. I suggest cutting of the aid to EVERYONE. Israel doesn't really need our aid and we can't afford to give any foreign aid any way right now. Furthermore it would be far better for both of our countries if America and Isael are operating completely separately from each sother. Its in our interest for Israel to successfully take out Iran's nuclear weapons program. The less America is involved the more likely the Isaelis are to be successful.

Rosey said...

To B.Poster:
A former co-worker, a Palestinian, told me the exact opposite, i.e., that the Sunni & the Shia wish to kill each other more than the Jews. Certainly that's one person's opinion, and one that took me by surprise. But the opinion of an actual Palestinian...

FF you wrote: "Bingo. In fact, I hope the Pals do exactly that, because it will end this farce once and for all."

I don't get it, how will it end the farce? Educate me.

Freedom Fighter said...

Hi Rosey,
Historically, Sunni and Shia have united when it comes to jihad against the infidels, but maintain a great deal of hostility and mistrust towards each other.

I would have asked your co-worker to explain, if this hostility is so implacable, why Sunni Hamas is a proxy of Shi'ite Iran!

As to why it would end the farce that started with Oslo, that's fairly simple. Both Oslo and the Roadmap specifically state that a settlement will come through agreement and negotiation between the parties, and that any unilateral action to bypass that is strictly verboten.

The Pals have repeatedly violated both agreements,but this would be a step over the red line.The Israelis could then declare both null and void and do what I suggested they do over a decade ago - formally annex the parts of Judea and Samaria that are not occupied by the Palestinian Authority' as their borders, move non-Israeli Arab citizens to the other side of that line( here are over 250,000 in Jerusalem alone) and defend them.

The UN would fume, but realistically, they could do nothing to enforce any resolutions. Israel is, after all, a nuclear power with a happening military. I don't see the blue helmets prevailing against the Tzahal!

As a side note, I quote my pal Zev, a vet of two of Israel's wars who came up with the best solution I ever heard for Judea and Samaria..."..just arm the settlers and get out of their way. If the Arabs act up, they'll know what to do."

He's 100% correct.