'Europe's policy on Israel like its Jewish policy in 30s and 40s'
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman slams Europe for condemning Israel's intention to build in E1 • "When Jews are sacrificed, ask yourself who will be next" • Livni: Not everyone is against us and not everyone is anti-Semitic, Holocaust reference wrong.
Shlomo Cesana, Daniel Siryoti, Yael Branovsky, Lilach Shoval, News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman says the attacks on Israel because of settlement construction remind him of darker periods in history.
Photo credit: AP
The European Union's decision to condemn Israel following its declaration of intent to build in the Jerusalem region is continuing to raise ire among Israel's political echelon.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that "our enemies' intentions are to destroy Israel; this isn't a dispute over borders."
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman also touched on the EU's condemnation, telling Israel Radio on Tuesday: "I'm not happy with Europe's stance, which once again in history is ignoring the calls to destroy the State of Israel, as well as the fact that Hamas' leaders in Gaza have repeatedly voiced their clear goal — to destroy Israel. Europe is silent. We have already been through this with Europe, in the late 1930s and the 40s. The Europeans sacrifice all their values for the sake of interests. They knew at the beginning of the 1940s exactly what was happening with the refugee camps, with the concentration camps, and they didn't exactly take action.
"When Jews are sacrificed, you have to ask yourself who will be next. In Toulouse, the terrorist who killed Jewish children also killed French soldiers."
Lieberman was referring to Mohamed Merah, who killed three Jewish schoolchildren and a teacher in the French city of Toulouse in March, days after killing three French troops.
"Terrorism attacks Jews but it targets all countries and Western values. Israel is just the hors d'oeuvre," he said.
Video: Lieberman speaks at the Jerusalem Post conference on Wednesday
Later on Tuesday evening, at a Hanukkah candle lighting ceremony with members of his Yisrael Beytenu party, Lieberman said, "In my view, there are some European foreign ministers for whom the destruction of Israel is a given." Lieberman went on to describe Europe's abandonment of the Jews before the outbreak of World War II.
Speaking at a Jerusalem Post diplomatic conference on Wednesday, Lieberman said, "When push comes to shove many world leaders will be willing to sacrifice Israel without batting an eyelash. We are not willing to become a second Czechoslovakia and sacrifice vital security interests."
Lieberman's comments provoked a rebuke by Isaac Herzog, the No. 2 in the opposition Labor party, who accused the foreign minister of spreading "fear and anguish among Israelis by establishing a link between the current situation and the Holocaust,” according to AFP.
Hatnuah Chairwoman Tzipi Livni, also speaking at the diplomatic conference in Herzliya, said, "The comparison between Israel's situation today to the Holocaust is disrespectful, wrong and completely unacceptable. The situation of Israeli citizens today is in no way similar to the situation of European Jews from that time. Not everyone is against us and not everyone is anti-Semitic. It's true that there is criticism over the current policy, but this must be separated from the support of Israel as a state."
Livni continued: "I think the policy needs to change, not as a favor to the world, but because it's a basic Israeli interest. Restarting negotiations will not only preserve Israel's values as a Jewish and democratic state, it will also shut the floodgates and give Israel back its legitimacy to take military action when we are called on to protect its security interests."
According to Livni, "IDF soldiers need to act against those trying to harm them. Considering the images of our soldiers (fleeing from rock-throwing Palestinians earlier this week) refraining from acting against those threatening them, out of concern for the international pressure it would cause, we must also explain this to the international community. Any comparison between terrorists and IDF soldiers is totally unacceptable. Every legal system in the world differentiates between killing by mistake and intentional murder, and the international community must say this, in no uncertain terms, to give Hamas and other extremist groups in the region the message that they won't be legitimized in any way."
Lieberman also declared that Israel would cease the transfer of funds to the Palestinian Authority for four months. The funds are used by the PA to pay its civil servants and police force, and the measure is a source of great concern in the European Union. Under interim peace deals, Israel collects some $100 million a month in duties on behalf of the Palestinian Authority.
"The Palestinians can forget about getting even one cent in the coming four months, and in four months' time we will decide how to proceed," Lieberman said in a speech on Tuesday night.
Israel has already withheld the December transfer, saying the money would be used to start paying off $200 million the Palestinians owe the Israel Electric Corporation.
Lieberman said the Palestinians also had another debt with the Israeli Water Authority that would have to be paid off.
"Israel is not prepared to accept unilateral steps by the Palestinian side, and anyone who thinks they will achieve concessions and gains this way is wrong," he said.
Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior Palestinian official, said earlier this month that Israel was guilty of "piracy and theft" by refusing to hand over the funds.
The European Union has also criticized Israel for not handing over the cash. "Contractual obligations ... regarding full, timely, predictable and transparent transfer of tax and custom revenues have to be respected," it said on Monday.
President Shimon Peres said on Tuesday, "I'm telling the leadership in Gaza, namely [Hamas leader] Khaled Mashaal — who gave a speech filled with lies — live and let live, otherwise you will pay a heavy price for your actions."
Meanwhile, PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who was visiting Turkey, said: "We are speeding toward an independent Palestinian state with the 1967 borders." Turkish President Abdullah Gül said, "Israel is playing with fire. We see the settlements, which split the West Bank in two, as a red line." With that, Gül added, "We will not resort to violence."
The Palestinians reported on Tuesday that in the early morning hours Israeli troops raided three offices in Ramallah and confiscated computers and documents.
According to the IDF Spokesperson's Office, "Last night, offices in Ramallah belonging to the terrorist organization the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine were searched."