The Palestinians are repeating a pattern they have demonstrated in the past of getting cold feet at the last minute before an agreement is about to be signed, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman told foreign ambassadors on Sunday.
“What happened last week, is that we were very close to accomplish the package deal with the Palestinians,” Liberman said, referring to the deal on the table — that included the US release of Jonathan Pollard — that was designed to keep the negotiations going past the April 29 deadline. “It was very complicated, after eight months, after real efforts and readiness by us to go forward, suddenly the Palestinians requested to join 15 different UN agencies.”
Liberman likened the Palestinian move to Yasser Arafat balking at the last minute at Camp David in 2000 from signing an agreement with then prime minister Ehud Barak, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas doing the same after the Annapolis Conference and not signing an agreement with then prime minister Ehud Olmert in 2008.
And after each of the cases in the past, Liberman said — hinting at what was likely to occur this time as well — “certain leaders and countries would not blame the Palestinians for sabotaging an agreement. After some time, they started to blame Israel and placed the pressure on us.”
US Secretary of State John Kerry last week, during testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, seemed to place the onus of the blame on Israel for the breakdown of the talks, though afterward his spokeswoman said he was not blaming one side or the other.
Liberman, who allowed the press to hear only his opening remarks to the ambassadors, but not their questions and his answers, said that by signing peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan, as well as signing the Oslo Accords and withdrawing completely from the Gaza Strip, Israel has proven its “readiness to achieve a final agreement” with the Palestinians, and was not just offering lip service.
“We are ready to talk and negotiate, but will not accept any unilateral steps,” he said.
View original Jerusalem Post publication at: http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/Liberman-Palestinians-repeating-pattern-of-stepping-back-at-last-minute-348399