March 18, 2013 - 17:52 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman expressed skepticism on Monday, March 18, that the upcoming visit of U.S. President Barack Obama would succeed in kick-starting the peace process with the Palestinians.
Speaking at a press conference to mark the swearing in of the new government on Monday, Lieberman stated that "the Palestinian issue has not progressed in the past four years, and it will not progress in the next four years either."
Asked what would constitute a successful Obama visit in his eyes, the Yisrael Beytenu chairman said the fact that the U.S. president chose to visit Israel in the first trip of his second term was a victory in and of itself.
Lieberman said that Israel would "emphatically oppose any attempt to reimpose a [settlement construction] freeze." Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly listed a moratorium on Israeli building in east Jerusalem and West Bank settlements as a pre-condition for the relaunching of peace talks.
Asked about Turkey, Lieberman who was a leading voice in the government against apologizing to Turkey, reiterated his position that Israel could opt for the type of apology that the U.S. made to Pakistan after accidentally killing 24 Pakistani troops in airstrikes in November 2011.
The language of that apology, which said "we are sorry for losses suffered," has been rejected by the Turks in the past. He spoke out against any confidence building measures to gradually improve ties with Ankara, saying that a rapprochement had to be reciprocal.
Lieberman also reiterated that good ties with Turkey were in the interest of both countries. He added that, even with the tensions in relations, the economic ties between the countries had grown over the past four years.
The issue of Turkish-Israeli ties is likely to come up during Obama's visit, as the U.S. sees an improvement in the relationship as an important priority.
The Jerusalem Magistrate's Court confirmed Monday that Lieberman's trial was scheduled to end in mid-July, barring any unforeseen circumstances. Lieberman is expected to resume his position as Foreign Minister if he is exonerated.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who is reserving the Foreign Ministry for Lieberman, chose Likud MK and outgoing coalition chairman Ze'ev Elkin to serve as Deputy Foreign Minister on Monday.