Avigdor Lieberman and “unattainable” peace

Why, exactly, hasn’t prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired his foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman?

Aren’t major ministers in a governing coalition supposed to work together, at least nominally, and not undercut each other?

But that seems to be exactly what Lieberman is doing.

According to JTA, Lieberman, speaking at a Yisrael Beiteinu event, said a comprehensive peace between Israel and the Palestinians is "an unattainable goal.”

This comes as Netanyahu seems to be taking dramatic steps to … well, create a comprehensive peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Lieberman’s statement will just fuel speculation that Israel isn’t serious about the new talks, which will resume in Sharm el-Sheik on September 14.

Which reminds me of something a veteran U.S. diplomat told me on the eve of last week’s Washington talks.

Going into the talks, Netanyahu was saying all the “right things,” from the perspective of an Obama administration that very much wants these new talks to start Israel and the Palestinians down the road to a comprehensive agreement.

But is Netanyahu, with his history of hardline policies and his right-of-center, serious about peace process progress – or is his new openness to the idea just a ploy to best Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in the court of world opinion and win favor with the Obama administration?

“We’ll know it’s serious when Netanyahu dissolves his cabinet and creates a new government with Kadima,” this diplomat said. “Until then, it’s an open question.”

Lieberman, with his penchant for controversy, may be pushing Netanyahu closer to that day of reckoning.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.