Is­raeli politi­cian who ad­vo­cates ‘trans­fer’ of Arabs due in Lon­don

The Jewish Chronicle - - News - BY SHELLY PAZ

ONE OF Is­rael’s most con­tro­ver­sial politi­cians, for­mer deputy prime min­is­ter Avig­dor Lieber­man, has been in­vited to Lon­don next month by Keren Kayemet L’Yis­rael and the Is­rael Busi­ness Club, in an at­tempt to spark de­bate that will as­sist fundrais­ing.

“Many of the mem­bers of the Is­raeli and the Jewish com­mu­nity in Lon­don, who are likely to do­nate money, do ac­tu­ally agree with Lieber­man’s opin­ions,” said Dubi Bergman, KKL’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive in Lon­don.

The com­ments of the Rus­sian-born Knes­set mem­ber, now head of the right-wing Yis­rael Beit­einu party, such as his idea to trans­fer to the Pales­tinian ter­ri­to­ries Is­raeli Arabs who do not feel a con­nec­tion with Is­rael, to give them a “loy­alty test”, and a re­mark about Arab MKs be­ing “col­lab­o­ra­tors”, have turned him into a con­tro­ver­sial fig­ure.

But Mr Bergman said: “The goal of this visit is to bring in­flu­en­tial Is­raeli and Bri­tish peo­ple to­gether and to let Mr Lieber­man tell them about Is­rael’s po­lit­i­cal and se­cu­rity con­di­tion to­day and the so­lu­tions as he sees them.

“We hope his visit will bring a fruit­ful de­bate. It’s easy to bring some­one that ev­ery­one agrees with. Per­son­ally, I would like to bring [Arab MK] Ahmed Tibi here some day.

“I don’t agree with his opin­ions, but I en­joy lis­ten­ing to him.”

Mr Lieber­man is due in Lon­don for a three-day visit be­tween June 19 and 22. Malka­Leon,di­rec­to­roftheIBCinLon­don, said: “We try to bring a variety of Is­raeli fig­urestos­peak.Thisway­we­can­hearthe ex­treme right- and left-wing politi­cians, aca­demics, artists and opin­ion-mak­ers.

“In the past, we hosted in Lon­don [Defence Min­is­ter] Ehud Barak, Prof Uzi Arad from the In­ter­dis­ci­plinary Cen­tre in Her­zliya, [for­mer Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter, MK] Li­mor Liv­nat, and more than a decade ago we had a rep­re­sent- ative of the PLO in Lon­don.”

Mr Lieber­man openly de­clares that yield­ing ter­ri­to­ries for peace has failed.

He re­signed from Ariel Sharon’s gov­ern­ment be­fore the Gaza disen­gage­ment in 2005, and op­poses the sug­ges­tion that Is­rael might give the Golan Heights to the Syr­i­ans in ex­change for peace. In­stead, he strongly backs the idea of ex­chang­ing set­tled ter­ri­to­ries in an at­tempt to reach re­gional peace.

A few months af­ter the sec­ond Le­banon war, Mr Lieber­man and his party joined Ehud Olmert’s gov­ern­ment, ex­plain­ing at the time that the IDF and the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment needed to be strength­ened by po­lit­i­cal unity.

But this Jan­uary, he pulled Yis­rael Beit­einu, the fourth-largest party in the Knes­set, from the gov­ern­ment. This time he ob­jected to pre­lim­i­nary ne­go­ti­a­tions with the Pales­tini­ans on the core is­sues of Jerusalem, the “right of re­turn” and the per­ma­nent borders of Is­rael and a Pales­tinian state.

PHOTO: AP

Avig­dor Lieber­man: visit planned to spark po­lit­i­cal de­bate

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