Lieberman said on Sunday that there will be no Turkish mediation as long as he and his Yisrael Beiteinu party are in the government because of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s harsh criticism of Israel following a deadly offensive in Gaza last December.
As of Monday, Labor Party lawmakers had launched a full-scale offensive against Lieberman at a party meeting in the Israeli parliament. “This man does only harm, [and] his faction is busy all day with bills that damage Israel. The Yisrael Beiteinu faction is reminiscent of other regimes in the world,” lawmaker Daniel Ben-Simon said.
When asked of the debates in Israel at a regular press briefing on Wednesday, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Burak Özügergin noted that everybody knew why the talks stalled last year, an apparent reference to Israel’s deadly offensive in the Gaza Strip last winter. Contradictory messages concerning Turkey’s possible role continue to come from Israel, Özügergin added.
The best answer to Lieberman’s outburst by has been given by Israeli public opinion which warned that Israel’s interests should not be harmed, he said, adding: “We are not insisting on being a mediator no matter what. After all, this is something which matters to our region and we always say that we will do our best.”
Israel has announced the construction of some 700 apartments in East Jerusalem, just a month after the Jewish state proclaimed a freeze on the building of new settlements in occupied Palestinian territory, drawing moderate criticism from the European Union.
Describing the issue as very complex, Özügergin said Israel should make a decision in line with its expectations for the future as well as in favor of the region.
On Monday, Israel’s Construction and Housing Ministry opened tenders for the construction of 692 new flats in the neighborhoods of Har Homa, Pisgat Zeev and Neve Yaakov -- Arab land absorbed by Israel after the 1967 Six-Day War. In a written statement released late Tuesday, the Foreign Ministry voiced concern over Israel’s decision, saying that it was “a clear violation of international law which will harm efforts for the revival of the peace process.”
“We call on Israel to review the decision and avoid these kinds of actions on Palestine territory under occupation,” the ministry said.
Özügergin, meanwhile, confirmed that Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak would be paying a visit to Turkey in the near future.