The public embrace by Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman of his American colleague Secretary of State John Kerry convinced quite a number of observers that we were seeing a “new Liberman.” His reservations about the scornful statements by Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon hurled at Kerry reinforced Liberman's image as the “responsible adult,” as President Shimon Peres referred to him at the annual conference of Israeli ambassadors Jan. 5. My colleague Ben Caspit also wrote that Liberman, always spoiling for a fight and setting fires, had taken a more pragmatic view.
At that same conference of ambassadors, Liberman declared that his party would not support a comprehensive arrangement with the Palestinians unless it included an exchange of populations. The foreign minister declared that he insists that Jewish settlers only be evacuated from the occupied territories (reminder: Israel never annexed the West Bank) on the condition that the Wadi Ara and Triangle regions be transferred to Palestine. This means revoking the citizenship of some 200,000 Israeli Arab citizens, whose legal status is identical to that of their Jewish neighbors in the adjacent Jewish localities of Kochav Yair and Katzir.