Avigdor Lieberman Benjamin Netanyahu Israel Middle East peace process Palestinians

New spin from Israel’s desperate foreign ministry

Imagine the consternation among the career staffers at Israel’s foreign ministry after their new boss, Avigdor Lieberman, said that Israel was not bound by prior agreements and explicitly mentioned Annapolis. It was hard enough for them to adjust a few years ago, when Tzipe Livni started to sound more like a Peace Now activist, ca 1988, than a Likudnik. But the challenge of speaking to the rest of the world about Lieberman is much more daunting.

The new, recommended response is a rather bold attempt at diversionary spin, as spelled out by Itamar Eichner in today’s Yediot Acharonot. Here is a translation from Israel News Today (No link available. E-mail isrlnews@netvision.net.il):

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s rejection of Annapolis has created the sense in the world that Israel is not interested in peace with the Palestinians. In order to deal with this contention, the Foreign Ministry yesterday adopted a new PR line for the Lieberman era: all the embassies in the world received a background paper showing “the series of Palestinian missed opportunities for peace.”

The message stresses that the Palestinians have never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity and it reviews Palestinian rejectionism from 1939 to the Olmert government. For example, the series of missed opportunities refers to turning down the partition plan of 1947, the Arab League’s rejection of Israel’s hand extended in peace after the Six-Day War, the Palestinian rejection of the autonomy idea proposed in the Camp David agreements and the acts of terror after disengagement.

The document notes that the Palestinians basically turned down all the peace plans and that throughout their history they have been waging a battle against Israel more than they are interested in the establishment of a state of their own.

As misdirection goes, that is actually rather daring, because it is part of a magic trick that even Houdini could not pull off. There is nothing positive that can be said about Israel’s official positions right now, so let’s go as far back as 1939, shall we? That’ll keep ’em occupied! For that matter, we could always go back even further, to 1919 or so, and trot out the accounts of Palestinian leaders who refused to meet with Chaim Weizmann when he wanted to talk about sharing the land. And we’ve got 1892, when some of their leaders met with the Turkish sultan and complained about Jewish emigration. Hey, we’ve got lots of material to work with…Now bring out that big cabinet with the secret escape hatch! And the rabbit!

14 thoughts on “New spin from Israel’s desperate foreign ministry

  1. I wonder why 1939? Surely the more reasonable date from a hasbara point of view would have been 1937 when the Peel Plan was proposed. And there was another partition plan, the Woodhead ? Plan, the next year.

  2. I really don’t know enough about Lieberman. However, my understanding is that he is very clear about supporting a 2-state solution.

    Maybe the devil is in the details–or how he plans to get there. But I don’t have this sense he is fuzzy on that goal.

  3. Suzanne,

    He is “clear” about supporting a two state solution but his vision involves carving out land where Arab citizens of Israel now reside and giving it to the Palestinians. Apparently this would happen whether the Arab citizens of Israel want it or not. And they don’t want it, all polls show.

  4. Teddy

    Is it on record that’s what he is going for? I know he embraces that screwy oath of loyalty to the state thing…

  5. I see nothing wrong with swapping territory provided two things hold true. First, the Arabs involved retain their Israeli citizenship and the option of moving elsewhere. Second, that the territory being given to the Palestinians is for the purpose of compensating them for territory taken from the West Bank on an equal basis. While purists may decry such swaps as “racist” because they involve getting rid of Arabs to take in Jewish settlers, without those settlers a peace agreement is much less likely to be reached.

  6. Thomas-
    I heard Ron Cohen, former MK of MERETZ, advocating having Israel get rid of the Arab parts of Jerusalem using exactly the same arguments that Lieberman says about the parts of Israel populated by Israeli Arabs. He said “why should we pay social security payments to them?”. Odd, how MERETZ “progressives” call Lieberman a racist for what he says, but for getting rid of Jerusalem (the biggest mitzvah for MERETZ) it is suddenly okay to use “racist” arguments”.

  7. Consent of the governed has merits, Yakov.

    As does rule of law regarding property rights. You are so critical of the lack of evolution of the Palestinian economic institutions, yet on the CRITICAL issue that defines the prospect of market economy (“equal due process under the law”), your positions are so weak.

    The CHOICE of jurisdiction is best when it constructs a compelling majority (to avoid civil war), but with significant minorites (to construct a real diversity that requires democratic rather than nationalistic institutions).

    The combination of those two features are THE reason that a two-state solution is the only feasible one that would facilitate our great-grandchildren having a possible home there (rather than a permanent warzone).

    It is a NECESSITY for the politics of the region to evolve to a “good neighbor to good neighbor” status. Safe and kind.

  8. If Lieberman’s stance is similar to the Meretz proposal Thomas described, I don’t see a huge problem either.

    Although, I agree with Richard that there’s the problem of the Israeli Arabs NOT wanting this.

    I don’t know a heck of a lot about Israeli Arabs and their place in Israeli society.

    I guess it boils down to this for me: if they were to grow a more viable middle class, how likely would they be to assimilate culturally into Israeli society?

    Israel is small. Any state needs social cohesiveness to be stable and viable–but small states especially so.

    I realize the argument is that class and culture prejudice against Muslim Arabs holds them down. I accept that.

    What I want to know is, will they assimilate if those constraints are taken away?

    And appended to that question: is a small country like Israel capable of functioning as a pluralist society like the US or UK etc?

  9. Suzanne,
    Where do you get that what I proposed is a Meretz proposal?

    Mr. Ben-David,
    Yossi Alpher in a recent column on his “Bitter Lemons” website said that he thought that this transfer of territory was okay. The difference between Jerusalem Arabs and Israeli Arabs is that the former were not citizens of Israel before 1967 and the overwhelming majority have refused to accept Israeli citizenship since 1967. Thus you are comparing citizens and noncitizens or apples and oranges. They may all be Arabs or fruit, but that doesn’t mean that there are not important legal distinctions between the two groups.

  10. Happy Passover/Chag sameach to one and all, including those who don’t celebrate it. You should enjoy the time, too!

    I won’t be able to monitor the blog very often during the holiday, but I’m sure all of you will behave yourselves 🙂

  11. Happy Passover!

    Thomas–think I erroneously assumed your stance (swapping land) was in line with Meretz. Sorry for that. In any case, I saw merit in what you stated. That was my main point.

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