Israeli FM: Drop 'Land for Peace' Slogan

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the nations of the world must quit using "land for peace" slogans, which don't address the real issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"Over the last two weeks, I've had many conversations with my colleagues around the world," Lieberman said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post.

"Just today, I saw the political advisor to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Chinese foreign minister and the Czech prime minister. And everybody…speaks with you like you're in a [political] campaign: "occupation, settlements, settlers," he said.

These catch phrases, like "land for peace" and "two-state solution" don't address the many issues that must be resolved to end the conflict, the foreign minister said.

Like Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Lieberman believes the economy, security, and stability must be must be addressed first.

"It's impossible to artificially impose any political solution. It will fail, for sure," Lieberman said.

"You cannot start any peace process from nothing. You must create the right situation, the right focus, the right conditions," he said.

While recognizing Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state is technically not a precondition to talks, Lieberman said it has to enter in at some point.

"You know, we don't want to torpedo the process, but somebody who really wants a solution, somebody who really desires a real peace and a real agreement must realize that his would be impossible to achieve without recognizing Israel as a Jewish state," he said.

Unlike the previous government, Lieberman said there would be no discussion on the right of return of so-called Palestinian refugees.

"It cannot be on the table," he said.

The stalemate with the Palestinians is not "occupation, not settlements and not settlers," Lieberman said.

"This conflict is really a very deep conflict," he said. "It started like other national conflicts [but] today it's more of a religious conflict. Today you have the influence of some non-rational players, like al-Qaeda."

Iran is a major factor, though not a precondition for talks with the Palestinians.

"No, we must start with the Palestinian issues because it's in our interest to resolve this problem. But there should be no illusions. To achieve an agreement, to achieve the end of the conflict, no more bloodshed, no more terror, no more claims -- that's impossible until Iran [is addressed]," he said.

Noting deepening ties between Iran and Syria, Lieberman said there's no point in restarting third-party negotiations undertaken by the Olmert government.

"We don't see any good will from the Syrian side, only the threats, like 'If you're not ready to talk, we'll retake the Golan by military action,'" he said.

In the next two weeks, Lieberman said the new government will have thoroughly reviewed and formulated its foreign policy, which will be made public when Netanyahu meets with U.S. President Barack Obama on May 18.

Source: The Jerusalem Post

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