Kerry's Offer the Best We'll Get, Says Israeli FM

Monday, January 06, 2014 |  Ryan Jones

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Sunday suggested Israel get fully on board with US Secretary of State John Kerry’s current peace push, noting that the American’s proposals were the best Israel could expect from the international community.

Speaking at a gathering of Israeli ambassadors in Jerusalem, Lieberman said he appreciated Kerry’s serious approach to the question of Israeli security, as well as his support for Israel’s demand to be recognized as a Jewish state. Kerry’s most recent framework proposal allowed for Israel to maintain a military presence in the Jordan Valley for the foreseeable future, while trading the rest of the so-called “West Bank” for explicit recognition by the Palestinian Authority for “the Jewish state.”

“Any alternative proposals brought forward by the international community will suit us much less,” said the typically-hawkish foreign minister, who just months earlier insisted there was no hope of peace with the current Palestinian leadership.

That might still be the case, actually. Kerry’s proposals have been rejected out of hand by the Palestinian leadership and by the Arab League, though the American reported on Monday that he had obtained the backing of both Saudi Arabia and Jordan for a more vague proposal aimed at getting Israel and the Palestinians to reach a kind of interim agreement in the near future.

In the interim, Lieberman is keen to make his own amendments to any US-brokered deal. In particular, Lieberman insists there must be a small land and population swap included in the agreement. Under his vision, Israel would retain the large Jewish “settlement blocs” in Judea and Samaria, while the Palestinian Authority would gain sovereignty over the so-called “Triangle,” an area in the Lower Galilee populated primarily by Arabs.

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