Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman enhanced his reputation for straight talk Sunday when he told Israeli diplomats “to get the message across very clearly that the Palestinian Authority is not prepared to reach an agreement with Israel." He also said that if Syria wants peace, it can hold direct talks with Jerusalem without Turkish mediation.
In the first-ever meeting with Israeli diplomats stationed around the world, the tough-talking Foreign Minister called the Oslo peace accords an "illusion" that Israel "sold to Europe and the United States." He added, "It is easy to sell illusions and fantasies."
Lieberman told the diplomats, "We have to stop thinking that the whole world is involved with us. It has many other problems and challenges besides the PA-Israeli struggle. We need to ask ourselves, ‘What are the chances of reaching a peace agreement with the PA?’ We have done everything, more than any other country would do. The problem is not Israel’s; it is the PA’s willingness. Even if we return to the 1967 borders, there will not be an end to the conflict. Even if we divide Jerusalem, nothing will change -- we will be in the same situation as today."
Repeating what a Russian analyst said at a Middle East conference in Jordan last week, Foreign Minister Lieberman estimated that there will be no lasting agreement in the next decade.
Concerning Syria, he repeated a theme he declared more than a year ago concerning Egypt, that a leader who wants to speak with Israel can come to Jerusalem. He created an uproar in Egypt when he stated that President Hosni Mubarak “can go to hell” if he does not want to visit Jerusalem, which he never has done except for the funeral of former Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin.
The Foreign Minister declared on Sunday that if Syrian President Bashar Assad wants to negotiate with Israel, "It will be only in direct talks, alternating between Jerusalem and Damascus." He rejected out of hand Turkey’s offer to mediate indirect talks, as was done during the administration of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
Moving to the subject of Iran, he estimated that anti-Semitism is a bigger danger to Israel than the Iranian nuclear threat. “It is intolerable that world leaders can incite against the State of Israel and deny the Holocaust while continuing to be acceptable in the eyes of the world."