Speaking on the eve of the first direct peace talks in nearly two years, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman mocked the notion that the talks would accomplish anything, insisting the sides were too far apart.
“It will be another festive event, just like other festive events,” Lieberman said of the talks. Though he declined to participate in the indirect peace talks, citing objections to the idea of a negotiated peace settlement, he insisted that he will take part in the direct talks in Washington DC.
Though the indirect talks did not accomplish anything, the Israeli government has been demanding unconditional direct talks for months. With the summit to begin those talks now scheduled, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has issued further demands for their participation.
But Lieberman’s role will likely be that of a spoiler. Long an opponent to even the idea of peace talks, he is also leading the charge for renewed and escalated construction in the occupied West Bank, construction which will likely sooner or later derail the talks.
His other main emphasis in his Israel Radio interview was that his political bloc would never accept the extension of the partial settlement freeze, scheduled to end next month. Lieberman’s party, as well as a number of other parties in the right wing coalition government, depend on the pro-settler movement for political support.