It’s too soon to be certain, but it’s looking like Avidgor Lieberman, our new Foreign Minister, may become one of my heroes — after all of the many doubts I’ve had about him. At any rate, at the moment he’s sure a breath of fresh air.
Following here are the main points he made at a ceremony of transition at the Foreign Ministry yesterday:
“Things have changed since [I studied international relations]…
“In my view, we must explain to the world that the priorities of the international community must change, and that all the previous benchmarks…have changed. There is a world order that the countries of the free world are trying to preserve, and there are forces, or countries or extremist entities that are trying to violate it.
“The claim that what is threatening the world today is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a way of evading reality. The reality is that the problems coming from the direction of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq.
“What is important is to maintain global and regional stability…
“I think that we have been disparaging many concepts, and we have shown the greatest distain of all for the word ‘peace.’ The fact that we say the word ‘peace’ twenty times a day will not bring peace any closer. There have been two governments here that took far-reaching measures: the Sharon government and the Olmert government. They took dramatic steps and made far-reaching proposals. We have seen the disengagement and witnessed the Annapolis accord. I read in the newspaper about the dramatic proposals made by the Prime Minister to the other side, which I do not think have ever been made, outside of Barak’s visit to Camp David.
“…I do not see that it brought peace. To the contrary. We have seen that during this period, after all the
gestures that we made, after all the dramatic steps we took and all the far reaching proposals we presented, in the past few years this country has gone through wars – the Second War in Lebanon and Operation Cast Lead – and not because we choose to. I have not seen peace here. It is precisely when we made all the concessions that I saw the Durban Conference, I saw two countries in the Arab world suddenly sever relations, recalling their ambassadors – Mauritania and Qatar. Qatar suddenly became extremist.
“We are also losing ground every day in public opinion. Does anyone think that concessions, and constantly saying ‘I am prepared to concede,’ and using the word ‘peace’ will lead to anything? No, that will just invite pressure, and more and more wars. ‘Si vis pacem, para bellum’ – if you want peace, prepare for war, be strong.
“We definitely want peace, but the other side also bears responsibility. We have proven this more than any other country in the world. No country has made concessions the way that Israel has. Since 1977, we have given up areas of land three times the size of the State of Israel. So we have proven the point.
“The Oslo process began in 1993. Sixteen years have passed since then and I do not see that we are any closer to a permanent settlement. There is one document that binds us and it is not the Annapolis Conference. That has no validity. When we drafted the basic government policy guidelines, we certainly stated that we would honor all the agreements and all the undertakings of previous governments. The continuity of government is respected in Israel. In the cabinet I voted against the Road Map, but that was the only document approved by the cabinet and by the Security Council – I believe as Resolution 1505. It is a binding resolution and it binds this government as well.
“The Israeli government never ratified the Annapolis accord. Neither the cabinet nor the Knesset ever ratified it, so anyone who wants to amuse himself can continue to do so. I have seen all the proposals made so generously by Ehud Olmert, but I have not seen any result.
“So we will therefore act exactly according to that document, the Road Map…I will never agree to our waiving all the clauses – I believe there are 48 of them – and going directly to the last clause, negotiations on a permanent settlement. No. These concessions do not achieve anything. We will adhere to it to the letter, exactly as written. Clauses one, two, three, four – dismantling terrorist organizations, establishing an effective government, making a profound constitutional change in the Palestinian Authority. We will proceed exactly according to the clauses. We are also obligated to implement what is required of us in each clause, but so is the other side. They must implement the document in full, including…the Zinni document and the Tenet document. I am not so sure that the Palestinian Authority or even we – in those circles that espouse peace so much, are aware of the existence of the Tenet and Zinni documents.
“When was Israel at its strongest in terms of public opinion around the world? After the victory of the Six Day War, not after all the concessions in Oslo Accords I, II, III and IV. Anyone who wants to maintain his status in public opinion must understand that if he wants respect, he must first respect himself. I think that, at least from our standpoint, that will be our policy.” (Emphasis added)
For speaking with integrity and national self-respect, and refusing to kowtow and wallow in demeaning concessions, give this man a standing ovation! We’ve waited a long time for an official of Israel to speak this way.
As Daniel Pipes (thanks Joel K.) put it, in similarly praising Lieberman’s speech. Lieberman has now announced “Israel is back.” That, I think, magnificently sums up the delight felt here.
For the record, the Zinni plan was a concrete proposal, with benchmarks and a timetable, put forth by US envoy Anthony Zinni in March 2002, whose principles Israel accepted. It deals with such matters as the PA collecting illegal arms, taking action against weapons factories and preventing smuggling. That was before there was a Hamas in control of Gaza.
This followed the Tenet plan — known as the Palestinian-Israeli Security Implementation Work Plan — put forth by George Tenet, CIA director, in June 2001. Among its several provisions is one calling on the PA to “move immediately to apprehend, question, and incarcerate terrorists in the West Bank and Gaza and…provide [a designated] security committee the names of those arrested as soon as they are apprehended, as well as a readout of actions taken.”
Yes, there are Israeli commitments as well, but the key here is holding the Palestinians’ feet to the fire. A term Netanyahu has used consistently is “reciprocity.”
All of this is to say that the Palestinians have a great deal to do before they can talk about final negotiations for a state. A great deal to do that they’re not about to do. (see below)
Also for the record, I am most decidedly not in favor of the Road Map, which ostensibly ends in a “two-state solution.”
Lieberman, as he himself points out, was opposed as well, but now supports it because the Israeli government committed to it, and he will honor that commitment. But one step at a time, not by beginning at the end of the process with final status negotiations.
The latest report from Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin includes the fact that just since our military operation in Gaza ended there have been 22 tons of explosives and 45 tons of raw materials used to manufacture weapons smuggled into Gaza.
And today Abu Ubeida, the spokesman for Hamas’s military wing , said that his group will refuse to sign an agreement that calls for the cessation of weapon smuggling, “or any other agreement that might undermine the resistance in Palestine.”
Declared Abu Ubeida, “the arms that reach the pure hands of the resistance fighters who fight the Zionist occupation are not smuggled weapons, but a human necessity… as part of the struggle for the nation’s dignity.”
Outgoing foreign minister Tzipi Livni, who made concessions at every turn and promoted Annapolis as the plan for saving Israel, was present at the ceremony when Lieberman spoke. Needless to say, she was less than pleased by Lieberman’s words, which repudiated her “peace” efforts.
Netanyahu, she said later to Army Radio, must distance himself from these comments, which “showed the world that we are not a partner [for peace].”
Environment Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) observed to Army Radio that Lieberman was just saying what most Israelis think.
And Lieberman was not finished. (Hopefully, he’s just getting started.) In an interview released today in Haaretz, he said, “There is no cabinet resolution regarding negotiations with Syria, and we have already said that we will not agree to withdraw from the Golan Heights.
“Peace will only be in exchange for peace.”
Syrian President Bashar Assad had an interview that was released today, as well — his was in the Qatari paper A-Sharq.
“There is no escape from the liberation of the Golan,” he declared. “Either through peace or through war. When a citizen loses hope, he turns towards resistance in one form or another.”
He also defended Syria’s support of Hezbollah:
“Hezbollah has an issue with Israel and we have the same issue. We therefore support the organization.
“We are speaking about a national organization with a religious agenda that acts in the framework of the Lebanese homeland. We see here a national party. It is therefore natural that we have a relationship with it.”
Presumably, the “same issue” is a claim that Israel has Syrian and Lebanese land.
A terrorist wielding an axe attacked a young teenager, Shlomo Nativ, in his community of Bat Ayin in Gush Etzion early this afternoon. He ran into a nearby house after being attacked, and attempts were made to resuscitate him. But he died of his wounds.
His parents, Haim and Revital Nativ, were among the original settlers of Bat Ayin.
A seven-year-old child, Yair Gamliel, was moderately wounded in the attack. He was saved when a Bat Ayin resident, Avinoam Maimon, saw what was happening and ran to help. Ultimately he disarmed the terrorist, who ran away. “I saw the lust to kill in his eyes,” Maimon later said. The child is in Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center with a fractured skull.
The IDF set up roadblocks and began searching the area. They now report they have a lead on the whereabouts of the terrorist.
Islamic Jihad and a little-known terrorist group called the Martyrs of Imad Mughniyeh both claimed responsibility for the attack.
Ofer Gamliel, the injured boy’s father, will be permitted to travel, under escort, from his prison cell to the hospital, to see his son. The senior Gamliel is serving his seventh year of a 15-year term for plotting to bomb an Arab school. The defense mounted by Gamliel and associates was that they were only planning a bomb scare — the bomb indeed was a dud — but the court rejected his claim.
This is amazing and the implications for Israel, and the Western world are potentially huge:
An Israeli company called Innowattech has developed a technology that allows the “harvesting” of mechanical energy generated when vehicles drive along the street, or people walk on a sidewalk. The vehicles or the people have to move across something called a Piezo Electric Generator system, which would be embedded in the sidewalk or street. Electric crystals in the system harness energy from the vibrations. A stretch of road less than a mile long, four lanes wide, which is traveled by about 1,000 vehicles per hour, would create about enough energy to power 600 homes.
It is now being tested.