Lieberman: PA Burying Peace Plan

Foreign Minister Lieberman told Democratic majority leader Rep. Steny Hoyer and 28 other party Congressmen that the PA is burying plans for peace.

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu ,

Rep,. Hoyer (right) and President Peres
Rep,. Hoyer (right) and President Peres
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told visiting Democratic majority leader Rep. Steny Hoyer and 28 other party Congressmen on Monday that the PA is burying plans for peace. The Democratic delegation arrived in Israel on the heels of a visit by Republicans last week. The American Israel Education Committee, affiliated with American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), is sponsoring the trips.


Foreign Minister Lieberman greeted the Democrats with a stinging condemnation of the Palestinian Authority and the Fatah convention, which is to conclude Monday in Bethlehem. The Arabs “are effectively burying the possibility of reaching an agreement in the coming years,” he said. “The extreme and uncompromising stand of Arabs in Jerusalem, the ‘right of return’ and the Jewish population centers [in Judea and Samaria] has created a gap between them and Israel that cannot be bridged.”


He added that PA leaders do not represent Arabs and instead speak for “Hamastan in Gaza and Fatah-land in Judea and Samaria.” The Foreign Minister warned the Democrats that an attempt to force an agreement between the PA and Israel within a specific time frame, as President Obama has suggested, is “doomed to failure.”


His comments followed by several hours strong statements by Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) and Shas leader and Interior Minister Eli Yishai, both of whom implicitly said that the Obama administration policy flies in the face of reality and previous understandings between Israel and the U.S.


The clear message from the Israeli government is in direct contradiction to an impression of optimism that the Obama administration has been trying to maintain in the face of refusals in the Arab world to make any moves towards recognizing Israel.


Although the visiting Democrats capture headlines in Israel, American media are focusing on President Obama’s troubled health care plan, which, in addition to no progress in Middle East plans, has put the American government on the defensive.


One of the 29 visiting Democrats is Connecticut Congressman Jim Himes, making his first trip to the Middle East since taking office in January. The Greenwich, Connecticut Time noted that his constituents are more concerned about health care and the economy than about the Middle East.


As with the Republican delegation, Iran is likely to overshadow the issue of Israel and the PA. U.S. Representative Himes, who sits on the Congressional Homeland Security Committee,  commented, "I've said for years that we need to try everything first in terms of getting them [Iran] to cease their development of nuclear weapons, but absolutely nothing is off the table, including a military option.”


GOP members of Congress visited the community of Alfei Menashe last week, but it is not clear if the Democrats also will visit the area. U.S. President Barack Obama has called all Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria as well as in eastern Jerusalem “illegitimate” and has insisted that Israel halt construction for Jews in these areas.