12 November, 2009 | Door Crethi Plethi
Avigdor Lieberman visits the Netherlands
The Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs – Avigdor Lieberman – visited the Netherlands november 11, 2009 (together with Danny Ayalon) and had a meeting with the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs – Maxime Verhagen – as well as the parliament committee for foreign affairs. In the evening Lieberman held a speech at a meeting with representatives from Jewish organizations in the Netherlands. During the speech Lieberman explained Israel’s foreign policy. The following is a report about the speech given by Lieberman at the Golden Tulip Hotel in Amsterdam.
On 11 november 2009 a small group of demonstraters are waiting on the arrival of Israel’s Minister of foreign affairs, Avigdor Lieberman, at the Golden Tulip Hotel in Amsterdam. They are yelling slogans as “Lieberman – Doberman” and “Intifada”. Lieberman was invited by the CIDI to give a speech about Israel’s policy on foreign affairs and he said rather cynical at the beginning of his speech that “I’m a bit disappointed about having just this small demonstration against my visit to Holland.”
Lieberman’s meeting with the dutch Minister of foreign affairs, Maxime Verhagen, was criticized by some parliamentarians in The Netherlands, because the dutch Minister is not willing to meet with Hamas leaders. Lieberman has made controversial comments in the past and is even called a racist by his critics. Therefore some members in Dutch Parliament thought it would be a case of double standard to meet with Lieberman and refuse to meet with Hamas leaders. Personally, I believe that any comparisant between Lieberman and Hamas leaders is totally out of balance. Hamas is an Islamic terrorist organization which don’t recognize the existence of Israel and hold no democratic values. Lieberman is democratically chosen by the people of Israel, and is willing to make peace with the Palestinians and even to leave the settlements from the Westbank if that would mean peace with the Palestinians.
Lieberman also addresses another often quoted remark of his that he would want to nuke the Gaza strip, because he compared the war against Hamas (Operation Cast Lead) with the war of the USA against the Japanese during WW2. “If I would bomb Gaza with nuclear bombs than this would mean I’m suicidal, because the distance between Gaza and Israel is only a few meters.”
This is the speech by Avigdor Lieberman:
“Let me explain to you my view of the problems in the Middle East:
There’s a misunderstanding about this conflict. We don’t have a conflict with the Palestinian people. We have a conflict with the extremist Palestinians. That’s the real clash that takes place. Recently, Tony Blair, visited Jenin and he was surprised about the progress that was made since the last intifada. So much progress, rebuilding of Jenin, economic growth, less roadblocks. Let me make this clear, the Palestinian Authority cannot survive without Israel’s support. And we give them support, even now. The real threat for Israel, but also for the PA is Hamas and the Jihad. It is the radical Islam who is fighting this war and Israel is on the frontline.
Another misunderstanding about the conflict. This war is not about territory. This war is about ideology, about ideas. It’s all about Jihad against the free world. When the Taliban destroyed the Buddha statues in Afghanistan, no Muslim leader complaint about it. When the Danish cartoons about Muhammad were published, all Muslim leaders condemned the publishing of the cartoons. Therefore, Israel is an excuse for Arab leaders to excite the Muslim crowd against Israel and in doing so to distract them from their own domestic problems. Syria, lebanon, Algeria, Marocco, Egypt, Iraq, Iran… they all have their domestic conflicts with minorities. If you put this in numbers, you will see that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict only makes 2% of all problems and conflicts in the arab world.
There’re only 2 peace agreements in the Middle East: one between Egypt and Israel. And one between Jordan and Israel. So it is possible to have peace, but there’s no magic solution in this world for all conflicts.
I believe that Iran is the biggest problem and threat in the Middle East. And not only towards Israel, but also towards the whole world… if they obtain nuclear possibility. This would also provoke a nuclear race in the Middle East, because it’s unacceptable for countries like Iraq and Saoudi Arabia that Iran would have nuclear possibilities. All these countries would try to get the same nuclear possibilities. And think, Iran is exporting it’s revolutionary idea’s around the world. They are involved with the Iraqi Jihad, with Hezbollah, with Hamas. They would do the same with their nuclear possibility. Iran is penetrating Africa and South America. They have a frontbase in Caracas, Venezuela. The man responsible for the bomb attacks on the Israeli Embassy in Argentina (1992) and the Argentine Jewish Association in Buenos Aires (1994) is now Irans Minister of Defense. So what can we expect? Iran trains rebels in Jemen and Somalia. They recruit mercenaries from Africa to fight in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Iran denies the holocaust and denounces Israels right to live. But nevertheless, Iran trades with the European Union. Iranian officials travel in the European Union. Is this not a double standard?
What about our relation with the Palestinians and the settlements? Our point of view: we accept a two states solution if that brings peace. We are ready for direct talks with the Palestinians. We enter these talks without preconditions. And what do the Palestinian Authority do: they want talks, but make new preconditions every day again. On the international platform they continue to make Israel look bad. But to talk with eachother, you need a trustworthy partner. Abbas is not even able to come to terms with Hamas, they don’t have talks together. No, Abbas is attacking Lieberman. But before Lieberman, there were so many nice Ministers to talk with. Ehud Barak, made an offer to withdraw to the borders before 1967, divide Jerusalem and accept Palestinian refugees. What was Arafat’s answer: NO. Israel left the Gaza strip according the disengagement plan from Sharon in 2005 and what did Israel get? Hamas in power and rockets on the cities of Israel. Olmert made a peace proposal by accepting Palestinian refugees, allowing a Palestinian state on the Westbank and Gaza and part of Jerusalem under International control. What was Abbas answer: NO. So, the PA is plotting against Israel, constantly. It’s hard to make a deal with such a partner.
The European Union thinks that the settlements are the biggest obstacle for peace. But the opposite is true. We made peace with Egypt in 1979 when we had settlements build in the Sinai Peninsula. We can achieve comprehensive final peace without further claims on both sides. I’m ready to evacuate my settlement where I live. Let us start in 1967. What was before 1967, between 1948 – 1967. The Arab world was in control of the Westbank and they never tried to establish a Palestinian state in that period on the Westbank. What did we have during this period? Friction, terror, attacks, etcetera. What was before 1948, before the existence of israel? The same. Friction, terror, progroms against the jews living in British Palestine. We all know how the Moefti of Jerusalem visited Hitler 3 times in Berlin and signed an agreement with Hitler. I think that everybody who is saying that the settlements are an obstacle for peace is trying to avoid direct talks with Israel.
What can we do? And this is what I explained to Minister Verhagen:
1. Direct talks with the Palestinians
2. PA: Not plotting against us in the International arena; cannot negotiate peace and plot against us at the same time
3. strengthen the PA security forces and promise prosperity
4. PA: no to terror and violence. The PA should learn from GreatBrittain and Argentina (Falkland Islands); Russia and Japan (Kuril Islands); Greece and Turkey (Cyprus). Both sides decided to stay on the political track without continues violence and terror.
If I ask 10 people in an Israeli street about the intentions of the Palestinians, than 9 out of 10 will answer that they do not believe in good intentions of the other side. If I ask 10 people in Ramallah about the intentions of the Israeli, than also 9 out of 10 will answer that they don’t believe in good intentions of the other side. It’s difficult to achieve peace, security and prosperity in such circumstances.
Despite this, Israel is a strong state with a strong economy, strong science and a strong army. We also have strong bonds with the jewish communities around the world.
What about our strategic alliance with the USA? Our strategic alliance with the USA is strong, no doubt, but we also try to help ourselves without the USA. The USA has many challenges around the world, so they have to divide their attention. What can Israel do? For example, the last visit of a Israeli Minister to Brazil was 24 years ago. How is that possible? The last visit to Africa was 46 years ago. What kind of understanding do we expect? I was asked to give some arguments why I should visit Africa? I answered: I give you one argument why I should visit Africa. In 2009 which countries visited Africa? France, Russia, China, USA. And Ahmadinejad visited Africa 3 times this year and also 20 officials from Iran visited Africa. That’s why I should visit Africa also, to explain, to build a stronger economy between Africa and Israel. We try to be creative and walk new roads and to put more diversity in our politics for new ways.”
Thank you, Mr. Lieberman