Lieberman Draws 'Red Lines'

Foreign Minister Lieberman wants Netanyahu to renew the “Bush understandings” with Obama and says the proposed “freeze” must not include Jerusalem.

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu , | updated: 12:03

Lieberman in Judea and Samaria (archives)
Lieberman in Judea and Samaria (archives)
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, chairman of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, demanded Tuesday morning that the Obama administration accept the “Bush understandings” that guarantee Israeli sovereignty over large population centers in Judea and Samaria.

Former U.S. President George W. Bush made the promise in a letter to former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The Obama administration has stated it is not bound by the letter because it is not part of a formal and signed agreement.

Lieberman, speaking during a tour in Africa on the “It’s All Talk" program on Voice of Israel government radio, said that acceptance of the understandings is one of three “red lines” he is placing on the government’s proposed freeze on new building in Judea and Samaria.

However, he added that he will not threaten to leave the coalition and instead will remain in the government to influence its policies.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak, chairman of the Labor party, announced on Monday he is signing the final approval for more than 450 new housing units in Judea and Samaria before the freeze takes effect. All of the residential units are slated for areas close to the 1949-1967 borders of Israel and do not include communities in the heart of Judea and Samaria.

The Foreign Minister’s second red line is that there be no government limits on building in eastern Jerusalem, where U.S. President Barack Obama has demanded that Israel halt all new construction for Jews. The U.S. government does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over eastern Jerusalem and has not suggested restrictions on Arab building, much of which is illegal under zoning and planning laws.

Lieberman also said that the “stranglehold” on Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria must end, although he did not specify how that could be done if the building freeze continues. “The government must stop punishing them [Jews] for living in communities that previous Labor governments approved,” he stated.