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      Lieberman: 'Land for Peace' is Dead

      Foreign Minister Lieberman: "No more territory in exchange for peace; all future agreements must be based on 'peace in exchange for peace.'"
      By Hillel Fendel
      First Publish: 2/8/2010, 4:34 PM / Last Update: 2/8/2010, 4:40 PM

      Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, head of the Israel Our Home party, says, "It's time to forget our obsession of "territory in exchange for peace; all future agreements must be based on 'peace in exchange for peace.'"

      Speaking at a party faction meeting on Monday, Lieberman said, "Peace is in fact our heart's desire, but it is not more important than Israel's existence as the state of the Jewish people or than lasting security for its citizens. We extend our hand in peace to enemies, but as long as they choose the path of war, we must be firm, return battle, and defeat the enemy. We must strive for victory instead of talking about possible compromise, interpreted as weakness by our enemies.

      "Our party, Yisrael Beiteinu, believes that we must free ourselves of the obsession of peace in exchange for land. Any future agreement will be based on peace for peace, and on the conception of maximum separation of the Jewish and Arab populaces, and on a regional solution, with the participation of Egyptian and Jordan.

      "Peace talks can happen only after certain basic conditions are fulfilled: Terrorism must be defeated, a partner/leader must be found who wants peace and who is able to fulfill his promises; and there must be a basic change in the educational system of the Palestinian Authority, so that instead of educating towards the destruction of Israel, it will teach peace and acceptance."

      Lieberman also briefly reviewed his long-standing proposal for a population transfer. "One idea [for a peace agreement] is to have an exchange of territories and populations," he said, referring to Arab-populated areas such as Umm el-Fahm, just south of the Galilee, which would become part of the PA entity, while large parts of Judea and Samaria would come under total Israeli sovereignty.

      "The demand upon us is to remove all Jews from Judea and Samaria, just as we did in Gush Katif – which would mean that a totally Jew-free state would arise in those areas, at the same time that Israel remains a bi-national state [with a 20 percent Arab minority]. This is not acceptable. A future solution must be symmetrical, and must not perpetuate the conflict whose very basis is the clash between two peoples."

      In a brief review of his party's accomplishments and goals, Lieberman said that though mistakes have been made and will be made – "Only those who don't do anything don't make any mistakes - but in summing up this past year, when I look at our voters and at our promises, I am satisfied. There are many positive aspects of our coalition agreement, and we plan to implement them, such as the law that will enable Israelis abroad to vote – we said that within a year of the establishment of the government this legislation would be introduced, and so by April 2 we plan to do so. In addition, we agreed that within 15 months – by this coming July – laws having to do with conversion and with civil marriages are supposed to come up for vote, and the citizenship law… We can't promise 100 percent success, but we can promise 100 percent effort; we will do all we can to fulfill all our promises to the voters."

      Some of the latter-mentioned legislative proposals are opposed by the religious establishment, and are not expected to pass in the Knesset very easily, if at all.