Lieberman warns Palestinians over independence plans
Israel's foreign minister warned Palestinians against intentions to unilaterally declare independence next year, saying in an interview Tuesday that such a move could prompt Israel to annex parts of the West Bank and annul past peace accords. Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad announced plans to unilaterally declare a Palestinian state, possibly as early as the summer of 2011 — even without a peace deal.
"Any unilateral decision will release us from all of our commitments and will allow us also to make unilateral decisions," Avigdor Lieberman was quoted as saying by the Ynet news Web site. "For example, imposing Israeli sovereignty on certain areas, cutting off all kinds of ties and transfers of money and a string of benefits and agreements put into place since the Oslo accords."
Under American pressure, Israel has imposed a 10-month slowdown on West Bank construction, but the order does not include east Jerusalem. "I think we have to make clear to Obama that we are not only not freezing construction in Jerusalem, but after the 10-month freeze we will go back to building" in the West Bank, Lieberman said.
The Israeli minister also criticized Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his increasingly confrontational stance toward Israel, saying he was damaging decades of "excellent" ties and is "slowly turning into Gadhafi or Hugo Chavez," a reference to the leaders of Libya and Venezuela. According to Lieberman, Erdogan should deal with Turkey's "problems with the Kurds" rather than "preach" to Israel. Kurdish rebels have been fighting for autonomy in southeast Turkey for more than two decades, killing tens of thousands.