Israeli FM: 'We Weathered Pharaoh'

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Despite the complex challenges facing the Jewish state, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman remains optimistic.

"We've weathered Pharaoh. We'll overcome this period as well," Lieberman told YNet news on Monday evening at the end of the seven-day Passover holiday commemorating the Israelites exodus from Egypt.

"Those who fought for independence and the State's existence must stand up to pressure," the foreign minister said. "There is no alternative."

Responding to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's disparaging weekend remarks during the launch of Turkey's new state-run television channel, TRT al Turkiye, Lieberman said, "It's his choice. The problem is not Turkey. The problem is Erdogan."

The Foreign Ministry issued a statement following Erdogan's charges of "the murder of Gaza children" and the "problems of the Islamic world of Jerusalem."

"We suggest he look for a more creative way to integrate both into the Muslim and Western worlds and not turn into another extreme leader such as [Venezuelan President] Hugo Chavez…Erdogan should bemoan the murder of innocent people in Iraq and Pakistan at the hands of [Islamic] terror groups," the statement read.

Lieberman also rejected the Obama administration's demands for more concessions to the Palestinian Authority.

"[Israel] has made enough goodwill gestures [to the Palestinian Authority] to create a very comfortable atmosphere ahead of direct negotiations."

"We have not received any positive incentive in return, only additional demands pressures and accusations. As far as I'm concerned, this chapter is over. There is no reason for any additional gesture. Now it's the Palestinians turn for gestures," he said.

"I think we must clarify to Obama that not only will we not freeze construction in Jerusalem, but that within 10 months of the freeze, we will resume construction in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] as well. There should be no illusions here," Lieberman said.

"We must not see anything as an entanglement. We must speak in a simplified manner, loud and clear. There is nothing to be ashamed of," he said.

On Iran's nuclear aspirations, Lieberman said "the only thing that is clear is that the Iranians are continuing to develop their nukes."

"We have received information that they have managed to circumvent the sanctions and purchase equipment through a Chinese company. There was [also] their [recent] announcement that they plan to build two more nuclear facilities," Lieberman said.

"The international community has failed in all its efforts to stop this plan. At the pace things are going, I don't see a chance for it [sanctions] to stop the Iranian nukes," the foreign minister concluded.

In related remarks, President Barack Obama told The New York Times on Monday that Iran will produce nuclear weapons.

"The current course they're on would provide them with nuclear weapons capabilities," Obama said.

Obama's remarks confirmed an earlier statement by former U.S. ambassador John Bolton, who said the White House was moving toward accepting a nuclear Iran.

"I very much worry the Obama administration is willing to accept a nuclear Iran," Bolton told Army Radio on March 28. "That's why there's this extraordinary pressure on Israel not to attack Iran," he said.

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YNet news and The Jerusalem Post contributed to this report.

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