Swerving leftward
Liberman Calls for Jewish Expulsions to Pacify EU

Liberman in closed meeting urges regional peace agreement to avoid EU sanctions, says 'we will have to evacuate settlements.'

Ari Yashar , | updated: 8:40 AM

Avigdor Liberman
Avigdor Liberman
Miriam Alster/Flash 90

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman's Yisrael Beytenu party may have run on a joint ticket with Likud in the last elections, but in a closed meeting on Tuesday he sharply attacked Prime Minister and Likud head Binyamin Netanyahu's political management.

According to Liberman, Israel needs a peace agreement including the evacuation of Jewish communities because Netanyahu's policy of placing supreme emphasis on maintaining the status quo has "failed," reports Haaretz, which received recordings from the meeting at Tel Aviv University.

"A step forward and a step back. There's no initiative. I stand for initiative. We need to initiate. When we don't initiate we lose. This approach (of Netanyahu's) failed pretty totally...I have respect for Netanyahu, but at the moment the approach I represent is more correct for this time," said Liberman.

Netanyahu's urging of the status quo has been seen most blatantly vis-a-vis the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism. Netanyahu has repeatedly promised Jordan and the European Union (EU) to guard the discriminatory status quo imposed by the Jordanian Waqf that enjoys de facto rule of the site, by which Jews are forbidden to pray there.

Liberman also criticized Jewish Home head Naftali Bennett's approach, saying it leads to a binational state and has no "compromise," and would lead to "crisis" with the Arab states and the West.

Bennett's plan to give the Palestinian Authority (PA) a full autonomy in Areas A and B of Judea and Samaria, annex Area C and give citizenship to its Arab residents, and remove all security checkpoints in the entire region has been met with criticism, most notably by security expert Dr. Martin Sherman, head of the Israel Institute of Security Studies.

On the Labor party, Liberman said it is proposing "a peace agreement with the Palestinians at any cost. There's no such thing as any cost. There's no such thing as a peace agreement only with the Palestinians. I'm talking about a regional peace agreement with the Palestinians, Arab countries and Israeli Arabs."

Hostage to EU sanctions?

In the meeting, Liberman stated that Israel is not initiating any political processes and warned that without a peace agreement, Israel's ties with the EU will be harmed and the Israeli economy will suffer serious damage.

Liberman in the meeting also hinted that a continuation of the standstill was liable to cause EU sanctions, like those imposed on Russia, saying "the more a state is developed the more it is sensitive to political decisions or changes in financial relations based on conventions and agreements."

"We have to reach a peace agreement - not because of the Palestinians or the Arabs, but because of the Jews," Liberman said. "It's important for our relations with the EU and United States. Whoever doesn't know - our largest market is the European Union. Also in export and also import. I'm satisfied with what we've done with the Chinese. There's a growth in trade with them, but in the end our largest market is the EU."

The EU has been showing a very hostile attitude towards Israel, with the European Parliament last Wednesday voting to recognize "Palestine" in principle - the same day that Hamas was removed from the EU's official terrorist organization list due to an alleged "technicality."

Many have argued that in the face of growing European and American antagonism, Israel should focus its attentions eastward towards India, Japan and China, and indeed the Jewish state has been actively pursuing increased ties with those nations as noted by Liberman.

As for what Liberman would propose regarding a change in the status quo, his political plan has been announced on several occasions in the lead up to the current elections.

Liberman's plan, criticized by many as being a blatant shift to the left, urges dividing Israel and conceding on large swathes of currently sovereign territory including the "Triangle" region of the Galilee so as to "unify" the people, in a plan that would involve coordination with Egypt and Jordan.

In the meeting, he said "we will need to evacuate isolated settlements. We evacuated Gush Katif. In terms of this there are solutions...I'm less concerned about this."

Recently Liberman said he would not rule out joining a coalition led by the Labor party after the elections in March, to which Likud warned that a vote for Yisrael Beytenu could mean a leftist coalition government.