web analytics
July 2, 2015 / 15 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Avigdor Lieberman’s Nuanced Insight


Former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman and Russian President Vladimir Putin in a friendly chat in Netanya, in 2012.

Former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman and Russian President Vladimir Putin in a friendly chat in Netanya, in 2012.
Photo Credit: FLASH 90

Even in Israel’s roughhouse political scene, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is the proverbial bull in a china shop. The general assumption is that Lieberman, who does not speak fluent English and has a tough-guy political fixer image dating back to his origins in the former Soviet Union, can’t be trusted to deal with nuanced issues.

Prime Minister Netanyahu stripped him of any responsibility for relations with the United States as well as the peace process with the Palestinians when he assumed this crucial Cabinet post. But though Lieberman’s significance has more to do with domestic Israeli politics, occasionally he says things that show us he has a better grasp of the situation than those who often put him down as being out of his depth.

That happened Sunday when Lieberman addressed a conference of Israeli diplomats in Jerusalem. As Barak Ravid wrote in Haaretz, “Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Sunday that Israel must accept U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s proposal for a framework agreement with the Palestinians since ‘any other proposal from the international community won’t be as good.’ ”

Though that is not what much of the Israeli right wants to hear, it does not mean Lieberman is drifting to the left.

The minister also noted that although he supports Kerry’s efforts to achieve a comprehensive peace, he and his party will never support an agreement that does not involve an Israeli surrender of territory inside the 1967 lines where Arabs predominate, a position that has been called racist by his opponents. But rather than dismissing this as a poison pill that will, like the Palestinian claim to the “right of return” for the descendants of the 1948 refugees, ensure that peace will never be achieved, Lieberman’s critics should listen closely to what he says.

Lieberman has repeatedly dismissed the Palestinian Authority and its leadership as not being a peace partner, yet he praised the secretary of state for his work in trying to get them to recognize Israel as a Jewish state – a formulation synonymous with accepting the end of the conflict. Kerry’s pursuit of an agreement is a mistake at this point because of the division between the Fatah-controlled West Bank and Hamas-controlled Gaza.

It’s also foolish to think that any group of Palestinian leaders can sell their people on genuine peace on any terms in the absence of a sea change in opinion that will enable them to let go of an existential conflict that is integral to their identity as a people. Nor should Israelis regard the Obama administration’s tilt toward the Palestinians on the issues of territory and Jerusalem with complacency.

Peace process enthusiasts who prefer to ignore the truth about the Palestinians consider such views intemperate. Yet Lieberman is correct when he notes that Kerry’s acceptance of Israel’s demand that the PA accept Israel as a Jewish state – something its leader Mahmoud Abbas has sworn he will never do – is a victory of sorts. That is something Israel cannot expect to hear, as Lieberman notes, from anyone else in the international community.

Yet it is likely that Lieberman’s resurrection of his party’s proposal for trading the “triangle” of Arab towns adjacent to the “green line” in Israel’s central region will cause his usual detractors to dismiss him as someone seeking to sabotage chances for peace. But while it is difficult to imagine this ever happening, it is possible that this seemingly radical idea may not be as unreasonable as some think.

After all, if it is a given that peace requires some Israelis to be turned out of their homes in communities in the West Bank and that other such settlements in blocs close to the pre-1967 lines should be incorporated into the Jewish state in exchange for other Israeli territory, why should that swap involve areas where people who now call themselves Palestinians rather than “Israeli Arabs” predominate?

There are two reasons that explain why the Palestinians refuse even to consider, must less to discuss this proposal.

One is that their notion of swaps is so minimal as to be insignificant. Even if one assumes that the PA is serious about wanting peace – something that its ongoing policy of honoring terrorists who have murdered Israeli civilians and fomenting hatred against Israel and Jews renders not credible – it has shown little willingness to accept a map based more on demographic reality than a rigid insistence on the 1967 lines.

The other is that their goal is not to have two states for two peoples, the concept Obama, Kerry, and the Israelis have discussed, but a Jew-free Palestinian Arab state on one side of the border and a mixed Jewish-Arab nation on the other whose balance would be altered by an influx of millions of Arabs, vastly overwhelming the Jewish majority and, in the bargain, expunging the explicitly Jewish state the United Nations voted to establish in 1947.

While some Israelis have spoken of accepting a token number of these so-called refugees, Lieberman is right to refuse a single one, a stance justified by the international community’s unwillingness to recognize that an equal number of Jewish refugees from the Arab and Muslim world lost their homes after 1948.

Rather than dismissing Lieberman, perhaps Kerry should be listening closely to the foreign minister’s insights. Until the Palestinians can be convinced to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and negotiate a deal that would truly be a solution of two states for two peoples, Kerry’s peace efforts will remain a fool’s errand.

About the Author: Jonathan S. Tobin is senior online editor of Commentary magazine and chief political blogger at www.commentarymagazine.com, where this first appeared. He can be reached via e-mail at jtobin@commentarymagazine.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “Avigdor Lieberman’s Nuanced Insight”

  1. Bear Klein says:

    Obviously if Palestinians wanted peace with Israel they would say welcome Jewish neighbors. We understand the Arabs living in Israel have democratic rights, freedom of religion, vote, hold office, etc. We will have our state and be peaceful neighbors who do not need a military and will take any Palestinian from the outside back into the West Bank. If peace is not the goal, the PA says, Israel you must take Palestinians into Israel. Later we intend to conquer it after we flood it with Arabs.

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu speaks during a news conference in Be'er Sheba.
Netanyahu: Israel Faces Double Threat, From ISIS and Iran
Latest Indepth Stories
wedding cake

When words lose meaning, the world becomes an Orwellian dystopia; a veritable Tower of Babel

ISIS leads captured Egyptian Copts in death march.

Israel, like the non-radical Islamic world. will be happy see the ISIS beheaded for once.

Dr. Michael J. Salamon

Kids shouldn’t have “uninstructed” Internet access, better to train them how to use it responsibly

Gerstenfeld-070315

What if years from now, IS were to control substantial territory? What world havoc would that wreak?

Rambam writes the verse’s double term refers to 2 messiahs: first King David; 2nd the final Mashiach

The Gaza flotilla has been rightfully and legally blocked by Israel’s Navy, with greetings from Bibi

The president described the attack as “an act that drew on a long history of bombs and arson and shots fired at churches, not random, but as a means of control, a way to terrorize and oppress…”

“The only [candidate] that’s going to give real support to Israel is me,” said the 69-year-old Trump.

And whereas at the outset the plan was that Iran would have to surrender most of its centrifuges, it will now be able to retain several thousand.

Now oil independent, US no longer needs its former strategic alliances with Gulf States-or Israel

In addition to the palace’s tremendous size it was home to the “hanging gardens,” which were counted among the seven wonders of the ancient world.

Rather than asserting Jewish rights on Temple Mount or protecting Jewish lives Israel chooses soccer

Nothing in the NEW Paris Proposal differs much from what was offered by Olmert and rejected by Abbas

No longer will delegitimization efforts go unchallenged. That’s a silence we will continue to break.

More Articles from Jonathan S. Tobin
President Barack Obama

Obama thought he could replace the Saudis with Iran as the new ME lynchpin without paying a price

Tobin-012315

The abuse following publication proved a cautionary tale: no one followed in Peters’s footsteps

Anti-Semitism has returned to the mainstream of European society and Israel has become its focus.

One of the key talking points by apologists for Hamas in the current conflict is that it isn’t fair that Israelis under fire have bomb shelters while Palestinians in Gaza don’t have any. Among other factors, the lack of shelters accounts in part for the differences in casualty figures between the two peoples. But somehow […]

How will all this end? Hamas seems to think it will be Netanyahu who will blink first.

Nothing short of a stroke that will decapitate the leadership of this group will convince the Arabs that Hamas has made a mistake.

Z STREET will have the ability to compel IRS officials to testify as to their practices and produce all records.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/avigdor-liebermans-nuanced-insight/2014/01/09/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: