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Lieberman slams Netanyahu’s policy, says Israel needs a peace deal

Lieberman said Netanyahu's policy might expose the country to a "diplomatic tsunami"

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Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “status-quo approach” to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has failed and will expose the country to a “diplomatic tsunami,” the Haaretz newspaper reported on Wednesday.

“We must reach a diplomatic agreement — not because of the Palestinians or the Arabs, but because of the Jews,” Lieberman said during a closed meeting at Tel Aviv University adding that the absence of an Israeli-Palestinian agreement would further sever ties with the European Union and damage the Israeli economy as a result.

“This is important for our relations with the European Union and the United States. For anyone who doesn’t know, our largest market is the EU, in both exports and imports. I’m pleased with what we’ve done with the Chinese; there’s been growth in our trade with them. But in the end, our biggest market is the EU,” added the Yisrael Beiteinu party chairman.

Last week, the European parliament adopted a non-binding resolution recognizing Palestinian statehood and the two-state solution in principle, so long peace talks progress, in a move that reflected a growing European frustration with Israeli policies toward Palestinians and the expanding settlements in Palestinian territories.
“Look what’s happening with Russia,” Lieberman said, in a reference to the EU sanctions imposed on Moscow as a result of the crisis in Ukraine.

Maintaining good economic ties with Europe is dependent on maintaining good diplomatic relations, he emphasized.

“It doesn’t work, and we must internalize this. When diplomatic relations deteriorate, you see what happens to the economy. I can cite the example closest to me, that of Russia,” said Lieberman, who was born in the former Soviet Union but later immigrated to Israel in 1978.

“The more developed the state, the more sensitive it is to political decisions or changes in economic relations based on treaties and agreements.”

A regional peace deal is the solution Israel should pursue, he added.

“We need to put an end to all these arguments and reach an agreement with our entire surroundings.”

Israel is not initiating anything and risks losing as a result, he said in response to a question.

Saying that Netanyahu’s policy has failed, the minister added: “I respect Netanyahu, but the approach I’m presenting is more correct at this time.”

Asked if Israel was facing a “diplomatic tsunami,” Lieberman said it “was far from being a tsunami.”

“But if we don’t initiate, we’ll reach a tsunami. The initiative must be a comprehensive regional agreement,” he reiterated.

In response to his comments, senior officials from Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition told Haaretz: "Israeli citizens need to know that a vote for Lieberman would lead to a left-wing government headed by Tzipi and Bougie, and the establishment of a Palestinian terror state - a second Hamastan, near Kfar Saba, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem."

Earlier this month, Netanyahu declared a new election more than two years ahead of schedule. The announcement came at a time of growing violence between Palestinians and Israelis and deepening despair of the prospects of peace.