Lieberman: Move borders for demographic realities in Middle East
Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman proposed Tuesday to recognize demographic realities in the quest for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which may conflict with coalition partners in the Israeli government, dpa reported.
Lieberman, a deputy to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said in an address to the UN General Assembly in New York that conflict has been effectively resolved or reduced in countries that split up, like Czechoslovakia and East Timor.
"Thus, the guiding principle for a final status agreement must not be land-for-peace, but rather, exchange of populated territory," said Lieberman, who appeared to want to step away from the core UN demand that Israel swap land for peace.
"Let me be clear: I am not speaking about moving populations, but rather about moving borders to better reflect demographic realities," he said.
He said that notion has been accepted as a "virtual truism" in the academic community, which coined the term "re-sizing the state."
Lieberman said Israelis now want peace, but the controversy in Israel centres on the specific question of how to achieve the peace and how to reach security and stability in the region.
"We are ready for a fair solution and we are ready to cooperate with the international community," he said. "However, we are not ready to compromise our national security or the vital interests of the State of Israel."
Lieberman said Israel's coalition government is now stable and has the support of the majority of Israel's citizens to achieve peace. But he decried what he called "flawed explanations" about repeated failures to reach a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
He said the conflict "will endure for many years ... the Iranian issue must be resolved first." He did not elaborate.
Netanyahu's office issued the following statement in reaction to Lieberman's UN address:
"The prime minister is the one who leads the peace negotations in the name of the State of Israel. The different issues of a peace agreement will be discussed and decided only at the negotation table and not anywhere else."