Lieberman: Give Iran Three-Month Deadline, Limit Dialogue
As Israel prepares to hold the largest military exercises in its history, speculations about a possible attack on Iran are on the rise. (3:30):
Israel’s hawkish Foreign Minster Avigdor Lieberman tries to spell out the manner in which the West should engage Iran in a nuclear dialogue.
Lieberman kick started his first European tour in the Italian capital of Rome days after the EU threatened to suspend upgrading relations with Tel Aviv if it refused to restart peace talks with the Palestinians and failed commit to the two-state solution.
“It is important that the dialogue with Iran be limited, and if after three months it will become clear that the Iranians stalling and are not shelving their nuclear program, the international community will be required to take practical measures against them,” Lieberman said in a meeting with Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on Tuesday.
Lieberman’s proposed measures against Iran could include military strikes on the country of more than 70 million people if talks fail to bring about the results Israel desires.
Israel, believed to have up to 200 nuclear warheads in its arsenal, accuses Iran of pursuing a military nuclear program.
Iran, however, says it enriches uranium for civilian applications and that it has a right to the technology already in the hands of many others.
Lieberman’s tour of the European capitals is seen by many as a tactic to waver international attention from Tel Aviv’s refusal to recognize an independent Palestine to Iran’s nuclear program.
Lieberman, who has chosen the green continent’s most pro-Israeli countries, namely Italy, France, Germany and the Czech Republic, has labeled constant emphasis on Palestine as a state “simplistic”, which “is a recipe for the destruction of Israel.”
He has also refused to recognize the right of return of tens of thousands of Palestinians who were driven out of the area during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.
During the war, around 700,000 to 750,000 Palestinians fled or were forced to leave their homes by the Israeli army. One third fled to the West Bank, another third to the Gaza strip and the remainder to Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and other parts of the world.
Lieberman has continued his trip to Europe by stopping at France, where he is scheduled to meet his French counterpart Bernard Kouchner. Paris has reportedly canceled plans to hold a press conference after talks.
The Moldovan born Foreign Minster’s trip to France has sparked protests, with more than 150 human rights activists chanting slogans against Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian population.
Protestors chanted “Lieberman, get lost, no fascism here” outside the main building of the foreign ministry in Paris.
In addition to Tel Aviv’s Christmas offensive on the Gaza strip which killed around 1,350 Palestinians, Israel has enforced a 22-month blockade on the strip preventing necessary humanitarian aid and assistance from reaching the 1.5 million people inside an area nearly twice the size of Washington DC.
In addition to the lost lives, the onslaught cost the Palestinian economy at least $1.6 billion, destroying some 4,000 residential buildings and damaging 16,000 other houses.
Western policies based on pressuring Iran to give up its nuclear program will fail because they disregard Israeli nuclear capabilities, which is “the first and greatest threat to security in the region,” an Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Monday….
An Egyptian official told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that Cairo would prefer that Israel pursue diplomacy, rather than a military option, to address Iran’s nuclear program. >>>
Israel’s foreign minister says he seeks to repair strained ties with the European Union amid controversy over Tel Aviv’s new approach to peace talks with the Palestinians.
On the first leg of his maiden international tour as Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman referred to Italy as “a friend” with a “profound knowledge of the Middle Eastern scene in its complexity.”
The firebrand minister told his Italian counterpart Franco Frattini that it was “no accident” that he chose Rome as the first destination on his way to the EU headquarters in Brussels in order to shore up support for the new cabinet in Israel.
Lieberman then asked for Italy’s assistance to push the European Union into improving ties with the new government in Tel Aviv.
The EU-Israeli relations were strained after EU Foreign Relations Commissioner, Benita Ferrero-Waldner warned Tel Aviv that mutual relations were threatened by the new radical regime’s approach to peace talks with the Palestinians.
Since assuming office in March, the former bouncer-turned-politician has been critical of previous governments for their mishandling of the Palestinian ‘issue’, which has brought ‘no concrete result’ for Israel.
Under the new right-wing Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, Lieberman has made controversial remarks about the ‘liability’ of a two-state solution for the Middle East crisis.
He has also ruled out Israel’s commitment to previous accords with Palestinians — a statement that drew fire from around the globe.
How Will Hezbollah Respond If Israel Attacks Iran? (h/t: C-SPAN Junkie – 10:58):
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