Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Lieberman attacks Barak in response to criticism


Foreign minister responds to criticism leveled against him following UN speech; says defense minister called for division of J'lem in potential peace agreement, yet no one blamed him for going against gov't stance.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman responded to criticism leveled against him following the controversial speech he gave to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, stating that as long as there is no breakthrough in negotiations with the Palestinians, nothing prevents him from giving his opinion. Lieberman's comments came in an interview with Israel Radio on Wednesday. Lieberman responded specifically to Defense Minister Ehud Barak's contention that the foreign minister's comments to the General Assembly did not reflect the stance of the Israeli government. Lieberman said that Barak stated last week that Jerusalem should be divided in a potential peace agreement with the Palestinians, yet he heard no one protest the fact that the defense minister's views did not echo those of the government.

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The foreign minister said that his own views are clear, consistent and known to all and they do not contradict the government's fundamental position.

Barak said Tuesday night that Lieberman's comments do not reflect the Israeli government's stance and certainly not the Labor party's attitude.

Reacting to Lieberman's UN General Assembley speech, Barak confirmed that the Labor party believes in a continuation of talks and finding a breakthrough.

Earlier on Tuesday evening, Lieberman spoke to Channel 2 news and said that the Palestinians are not interested in peace, and the time has come for Israel to stop blaming itself for failing to achieve peace.

The foreign minister also defended comments he made on Tuesday afternoon at the UN General Assembly.

In his speech before the General Assembly, Lieberman told international leaders that he believed that Israel must arrive at an interim agreement with the Palestinians, that peace would only be possible after a number of decades, and that an ultimate agreement would require population and territorial exchanges.

The foreign minister said during the Channel 2 interview that at the UN he talked about the facts and expressed the opinions of "the majority of the Israeli public" on the issue of peace negotiations.

He said that everyone wants peace and "maybe the time has come to change the direction of negotiations."

"Peace needs to come naturally, its like a premature birth - if it comes to early then it can be dangerous," Lieberman said.

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