Liberman Pledges to Oppose Release of Israeli-Arab Terrorists
Avigdor Liberman attacked a possible deal between Israel, the US, and the Palestinian Authority (PA) on Wednesday night to release more Palestinian Arab and Israeli Arab terrorists, saying he "would oppose any arrangement that would include releasing high-security prisoners who are citizens of the State of Israel."
Liberman, speaking at a Yisrael Beytenu event, noted that the future of talks is up to the PA.
"We have to manage the conflict as possible," Liberman stated. "I do not know if this is a real crisis or a fabricated crisis."
"Whether it is serious or tactical or strategic, we will get the the answer to this in the coming days," he continued. "The State of Israel did everything and now the ball is in the Palestinians' court. With every crisis there is also a chance [for success]."
"We have something waiting on the political horizon, and it does not have to be the Palestinians," he added. "If they do not want to negotiate we do not need to chase them and not make any 'gestures,' if [they] do not want to negotiate it's [their] decision and [theirs] only."
Moderate Arab World: A Real Partner for Peace?
Liberman said that, instead, Israel should turn to the rest of the Arab world.
"Our political horizon is the moderate Arab world," he claimed. "For the first time, there is recognition in those countries that their real enemy is this not the Jews and the Zionists. They understand that their enemy is Jihadi extremist movements, which are backed by Iran."
"Today, even in the Gulf and Egypt and Saudi Arabia have the chance of recognizing and cooperating with us," he continued. "They have money and space - we have the knowledge and technology. [Together], we can build a completely different reality."
"We must make an effort to quietly cooperate with the Arab world, who realized that Islamist extremism is its first and biggest danger. And if the Palestinians want to join in, we [still] will as well."
Land Swap Here, Land Swap There. . .
Liberman also reiterated during the speech the importance of his own proposed deal: swapping large Jewish "settlement blocs" in Judea and Samaria for Arab-Israeli population centers with the PA.
The swap, which Israel reportedly offered the US in talks in December, refers to the area known as the Triangle in east-central Israel. The area includes the cities of Tayibe and Tira, in which about 300,000 Arabs live.
"Among us there are residents of Israel who are waving Palestinian flags in their communities, and Independence Day is not a holiday for them," he stated. "To me, the principle of exchanging territory and populations must be the basis for any agreement. We talked about it many times."
"I have never heard a rejection of this idea when I put it in front of world leaders," he added. "They only asked if it's practical."
US and Israel: Why Can't We Just Get Along?
Liberman also related to tensions between Israel and the US. Critics say the US is trying to force Israel into making a series of difficult concessions by offering the release of longtime captive and "hostage" Jonathan Pollard.
"These days it is important to note the strategic alliance between Israel and the United States. We have a special relationship based on the same values and interests."
"We do not have other allies like the United States and they have proved this through many difficult tests," he added. "Even John Kerry and his friendship for Israel and the Jewish people is backed up by 30 years of a positive relationship between the US and Israel."