(Communicated by the Foreign Minister's Bureau)
In his first meeting with US special envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Liberman reviewed the diplomatic process since the 1993 Oslo Accords, pointing out that the traditional approach has so far brought neither results nor solutions. Minister Liberman added that past Israeli prime ministers were prepared to make far-reaching concessions, and that the policies of the Olmert-Livni government in this regard resulted in the Second Lebanon War and Operation Cast Lead. Furthermore, Qatar and Mauritania have cut off ties with Israel, Gilad Shalit continues to sit in captivity, and the diplomatic process has reached a dead end.
The Foreign Minister added that the Israeli government will have to formulate new ideas and a new approach. "We anticipate close cooperation and coordination with the US Administration," he said.
FM Liberman stressed that Israel expects absolute support from the international community on the issue of security as well as its unequivocal commitment to the concept of Israel as a Jewish state and as the state of the Jewish people.
FM Liberman also raised the issue of the Iranian threat as a central problem for Israel and the entire region, as demonstrated by the arrest of terrorists in Egypt last week. "Iran with nuclear weapons and long-range missiles; Hamas and the Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip; and Hizbullah in Lebanon – this is the real problem. If we're looking for a stable solution to the Palestinian problem, we must first of all stop the intensification and expansion of the Iranian threat." The minister added that Israel will do whatever is necessary to improve the economic condition of the Palestinians.