Lieberman’s Statements Risk More Anti-Israel Anger
In the latest in a series of belligerent statements about European criticism of Israeli plans for Jewish settlements, Mr Lieberman told a conference in Herzliya that international guarantees of support for Israel resembled the approach of Britain and France towards Czechoslovakia before its dismemberment by Hitler in the run up to the Second World War.
“All the expressions and promises of commitment to Israel’s security from all around the world remind me of similar commitments made to Czechoslovakia in 1938,” he told a seminar on Wednesday organised by the Jerusalem Post newspaper.
“My sense is that all the promises and commitments to Israel’s security are mere words. When push comes to shove, many key leaders would be willing to sacrifice Israel without batting an eyelid in order to appease the radical Islamist militants and ensure quiet for themselves.”
The remarks came after Mr Lieberman had earlier invoked the Holocaust in response to a statement by European Union foreign ministers condemning recently announced proposals for new West Bank settlements.
He claimed some European ministers had been opposed to inserting a clause that also criticised the Palestinian militant group, Hamas, after its leader-in-exile, Khaled Meshaal, vowed during a visit to Gaza last weekend never to accept Israel’s right to exist.
“I am not satisfied with the position of Europe, which once again in history is ignoring calls to destroy the state of Israel,” Mr Lieberman told Israel Radio. “We have already been through this with Europe at the end of the 1930s and in the 1940s.
“They already knew by the start of the 1940s exactly what was happening in the concentration camps, what was happening with the Jews and didn’t exactly act. Today they admit that even in the 1930s they prevented Jews for coming to the land of Israel.”
His comments were condemned by his predecessor as foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, who accused him of “trivialising the Holocaust”.
“There is absolutely no similarity between the situations of Israeli citizens today to that of European Jews then. Not everybody is against us, and not everyone is anti-Semitic,” she said, calling for the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
The British embassy in Tel Aviv declined to comment.