Olmert distances himself from Lieberman statements

Monday, November 06, 2006 |  by Staff Writer
In reaction to the statements made by the newly appointed Minister of Strategic Affairs Avigdor Lieberman (photo), saying that the only way to achieve peace is complete separation between Jews and Arabs, including Israeli Arabs, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that he did not share these opinions with Lieberman, and they are not the position of the government.

In an interview to the British Daily Telegraph newspaper over the weekend, Lieberman said that only separation between the two peoples, Arabs and Jews, will allow for future peace in the Middle East. “Minorities were and still are the world’s biggest problem,” he said.

Lieberman called to copy the Cypriote model which separated between ethnic Greeks and Turks and brought stability to the country. He said that Israel's 1.25 million Arab minority was a "problem" which required "separation" from the Jewish state. "We established Israel as a Jewish country," he said. In reference to the settlements, Lieberman said that he has no intention of supporting evacuation of communities, and that the purpose is to keep the settlements for now in order to get something in “return” for them: the transfer of the Arab population to the Palestinian territories.

The words were also condemned vehemently during the meeting of all ministers from the Labor Party. Minister Issac Herzog said that “the words of Lieberman are unacceptable. I hope the Prime Minister will conduct an inquiry of him about the statements. Defense Minister Amir Peretz said that the statement causes an unnecessary upheaval and the government should condemn them.

During the weekly cabinet meeting, Peretz said that the statements were harsh and they needlessly hurt a large population. “I don’t understand how these statements contribute. On behalf of the Labor Party, we refuse to let these kinds of words be accepted,” he said.

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