Barak Ravid
October 11, 2010 - 12:00am

The foreign ministers of Spain and France were furious with their Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman, telling him Monday morning during a phone conversation that he had "violated every rule of diplomatic etiquette," an Israeli source reported on Monday.

During a dinner meeting on Sunday, Lieberman told France's Bernard Kouchner and Spain's Miguel Angel Moratinos to "solve your own problems in Europe before you come to us with complaints. Maybe then I will be open to accepting your suggestions."

Lieberman emphasized to that "Israel will not be the Czechoslovakia of 2010," at their meeting at the foreign ministry offices in Jerusalem.

During the telephone conversation between the three FMs Monday, the European ministers voiced their extreme dismay with the fact that details of the meeting were made public an hour after it took place. "You violated our trust," they said to Lieberman.

Moratinos said that Lieberman had apologized for what had happened during the meeting, but Foreign Ministry officials denied this report, saying that Lieberman did not apologize but rather clarified that he did not intend for his remarks to be presented in the media as a reprimand of Kouchner and Moratinos.

The French and Spanish foreign ministers said that were very surprised by Lieberman's remarks during Sunday's meeting, especially in light of the fact that, according to them, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had made remarks contradicting Lieberman's tone mere hours before the meeting.

While Netanyahu told the European statesmen that he aims to achieve a peace agreement with the Palestinians within a year, Lieberman stressed to them that "anyone who talks like that is naïve." The men emphasized to Lieberman during their dinner that they completely disagreed with his assertion that a peace deal could not be achieved.

They explained to Lieberman that if a Palestinian state is not established within the next year or two, it would undermine Israel's security, urging Lieberman to take advantage of the current Palestinian leadership, as no one knows what the alternative will be in the future.

Meanwhile Monday, Lieberman denied the reports that the dinner was unpleasant, and said despite the fact that it was at times complicated, the dinner was "very tasty, and there was a good, honest and open atmosphere. We spoke openly, as friends do."

Lieberman added that he indeed spoke with Moratinos on the phone and described the conversation as "good." He stressed that he did not reprimand anyone, and said that "we need to stop squirming and stuttering. In Europe they passed the Burka ban law [France] and a Minaret ban [Switzerland] and no one got excited about it."

"In the reality of the middle East, only the strong survive," he added.


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