Roni Sofer
April 6, 2010 - 12:00am,7340,L-3871926,00.html

Iran is heading towards a nuclear bomb, Turkey continues to verbally attack Israel, the Palestinians are threatening to declare a state and US President Barack Obama is demanding to control construction in Jerusalem. But Foreign Minister Avgidor Lieberman remains optimistic, despite all of these plagues.

"We’ve weathered Pharaoh, we'll overcome this period as well," he told Ynet on Monday evening. "Those who fought for independence and for the State's existence must stand up to pressure. There is no alternative."

According to Lieberman, "It's his choice. The problem is not Turkey, the problem is Erdogan."

He is unmoved by the Palestinians' declarations that they plan to establish an independent state within 24 months. "Any one-sided decision will release us from all our commitments as well," he said. "It certainly won't bring a solution and peace."

Ahead of US special envoy George Mitchell's visit to the region, Lieberman believes that there is no crisis with the United States, although President Obama and the State Department are demanding answers to their demand to freeze construction in Jerusalem, ease the blockade on Gaza and offer gestures to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

"We must not see anything as an entanglement," he said. "We must speak in a simplified manner, loud and clear. There is nothing to be ashamed of."

The foreign minister stressed that despite the American demand, he has no plans for additional gestures to the Palestinians. The Netanyahu government, he said, "has made enough goodwill gestures in order to create a very comfortable atmosphere ahead of direct negotiations.

"We have not received any positive incentive in return, but only additional demands, pressures and accusations. As far as I am concerned, this chapter is over. There is no reason for any additional gesture. Now it's the Palestinians' turn for gestures."

Obama, don't indulge in illusions

Lieberman also believes that Israel must speak clearly to the US president. "I think we must clarify to Obama that not only will we not freeze construction in Jerusalem, but that within 10 months of the freeze we will resume construction in Judea and Samaria as well. There should be no illusions here."

He stressed that this was his own stance, but explained that he did not think the seven-minister forum would make a different decision. "We are sensible and responsible people," he said.

Addressing the international effort to recruit China to support sanctions on Iran, Lieberman said that "at the moment the only thing that is clear is that the Iranians are continuing to develop their nukes. We have received information that they have managed to deceive the sanctions and purchase equipment through a Chinese company, and there was their announcement that they plan to build two more nuclear facilities.

The international community has failed in all its efforts to stop this plan. In the pace things are going, I don’t see a chance for it to stop the Iranian nukes."

Following a Ynet report about growing concern among US Jews, the Yisrael Beiteinu chairman denied that his party had struck a deal with Shas aimed at approving a civil marriage bill in exchange for handing over conversion issues to Jewish Orthodox elements.

"We believe the conversion must be handed over to the cities' rabbis. This is our stand," he said. "As for the claims made by the US Jewry, these are unfounded speculations. Deputy Minister Danny Ayalon and MK David Rotem will visit the US this month and explain our stand there."


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