Haaretz (Editorial)
October 1, 2010 - 12:00am

The official response from the prime minister's bureau, following Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's speech to the United Nations General Assembly, was surprising. "The content of the foreign minister's speech was not coordinated with the prime minister," the statement said, adding "Prime Minister Netanyahu is the one handling the negotiations on Israel's behalf."

The lack of coordination between Netanyahu and a cabinet minister is the least of the problems raised by the speech. Israel's foreign minister presented the UN General Assembly with a detailed and specific plan, which is the core of Yisrael Beiteinu's platform, based on "exchanges of populated areas" - that is, the transfer of Arab citizens from Israel to Palestinian rule. Lieberman's statements to the international community directly contradict Israel's declared policy and the Netanyahu government's own policy as presented in negotiations.

It seems that Lieberman, who usually does not bother to represent Israel in the free world, and who declared ahead of time that he would not participate in the talks with the Palestinians, had meticulously planned his appearence at the UN. His address was directed not only at the General Assembly, but was unleashed like a sharp arrow straight at Netanyahu, and was intended to undermine the prime minister's credibility and his ability to conduct negotiations with the Palestinians.

Lieberman's declaration that the Iranian problem, rather than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, should be solved first, devoids the talks of meaning. And the talks are already in crisis because of the battle over construction in the settlements.

Without getting into the thick of Lieberman's political doctrine, which relies almost completely on baseless "ethnocratic" ideas and aggressiveness toward other countries, the fact that a foreign minister makes statements to the UN General Assembly that are in complete opposition to the official stance of the government in which he serves, is a reason for his dismissal. But Netanyahu's lukewarm response to the statements raises the concern that the prime minister is not all that opposed to his foreign minister's ideas. If Netanyahu intends to continue peace negotiations, and believes, as he says, that if we don't try, we won't succeed, then Lieberman must go now.


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