Israel FM hits out at Iran, Syria
Fri, Apr 24, 2009

JERUSALEM, April 24, 2009 (AFP) - Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in an interview published Friday Iran is a key obstacle to resolving the Middle East conflict and spoke out against resuming indirect talks with Syria.

It would be impossible, Lieberman told the English-language Jerusalem Post, "to resolve any problem in our region without resolving the Iranian problem."

The biggest obstacle to any comprehensive solution, the right-wing minister said, "is not Israel, it is not the Palestinians. It's the Iranians."

The daily, which did not publish the full interview, also said Lieberman cited Syria's deepening ties with Iran - Israel's archfoe - and added that he saw no point in resuming the indirect talks with Damascus conducted by the last government.

"We don't see any good will come the Syrian side. Only the threats like: "If you're not ready to talk, we'll retake the Golan by military action", Lieberman said.

Israel occupied the Golan in the 1967 Six-Day War and annexed it in 1981 in a move never recognised by the international community. In May last year, Syria and Israel began indirect talks after negotiations halted eight years earlier over the fate of the strategic plateau.

An immigrant from the former Soviet Union who lives in a West Bank settlement, Lieberman said the real reason for the deadlock with the Palestinians "is not occupation, not settlements and not settlers."

"It started like other national conflicts ... today it's a more religious conflict. Today you have the influence of some non-rational players, like Al-Qaeda," said Lieberman.

He rapped the world community for "speaking in slogans" when addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"And everybody, you know, speaks with you like you're in a campaign: occupation, settlements, settlers," he said, adding that "slogans" like "two-state solution" are overly simplistic and ignore the root causes of the conflict.

The Jerusalem Post said Lieberman would not say whether he ruled out or accepted the concept of a Palestinian state.

He said the new government, which took office on March 31, would complete its foreign policy review over the next two weeks and announce it when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets US President Barack Obama at the White House in May.


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