Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman was once a nightclub bouncer in Soviet Moldova, born and raised outside Israel.
He is a settler par excellence and in the perfect position for somebody with the track record of premier Benjamin Netanyahu to appoint him as foreign minister, in order to use him as the front man for any dirty work.
Barely had Lieberman’s letter calling for the ouster of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas become public before Netanyahu was distancing himself from it.
He was anxious to try and soften the impact of Lieberman’s harsh words. But seen in the context of the concrete action of his administration Netanyahu’s denunciation comes across as little more than crocodile tears. Indeed, his condemnation came in the wake of the approval, in defiance of the international community, for a tender for new housing in the East Jerusalem.
When it comes down to the crux of things, in his actions he is as guilty as his foreign minister, and trying to hide that does no favors to the struggle to reach a peaceful solution for Israel and Palestine.
Evidence of the true feelings of the Israeli administration can be seen in their everyday treatment of the Palestinians, most recently in the manner in which they recently acted as if they had done the Palestinians a favor by allowing them to use their own land, allowing over a million people to use the mosques of occupied Jerusalem and the coastline during Ramadan.
With this backdrop the sweet talk of Netanyahu and his ministers appears to be mere smokescreen to the reality of their treatment of the Palestinians and the measures they implement over them.
But sometimes, as was the case with Lieberman, that sugar-coating rubs off and their true feelings become all too apparent.
It matters little how serious Lieberman was with his comments. They got the reaction he no doubt intended, achieved whatever electioneering he was aiming for. But they are a distraction. Lieberman’s words are nothing compared to the concrete measures taken on the ground: the economic and social policies that keep the Palestinians trapped.
So, Netanyahu can condemn violent and racist attacks on young Palestinians in occupied Jerusalem, but his policies maintain the structures that perpetuate such odious attitudes and prevent any peace settlement or the implementation of a two-state solution.
These measures, enacted with little regard to international standards, condemnation or to their potential for harm, are delaying, and may ultimately destroy, the peace process.
The whole world, not just the Palestinians, knows there can be no peace with such a government. If they want even a hint of peace, this government must abandon its two-faced attitude toward it.