FM heads to Albania in full-court press against PA UN bid
By Herb Keinon
Lieberman also to visit Croatia, Austria, followed by Netanyahu trips to Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary in effort to win UN votes.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman will travel to Croatia on Sunday, the first leg of a trip that will also take him to Albania and Austria where he will, among other issues on the agenda, try to convince those countries not to support a Palestinian bid for statehood at the UN in September.
Lieberman’s trip will be followed a week later by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s trip to Romania and Bulgaria with the same message. Two weeks later Netanyahu is also scheduled to travel to Poland and Hungary and try to convince them not to support the Palestinian move.
The intensive diplomatic push comes at a time when Israel is keen on getting as many countries as it can to come out publicly against the move. So far the US, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands have publicly expressed reservations.
Israel, according to diplomatic officials, has set as a goal 60 countries – what some in the Foreign Ministry have called a “moral minority” – to vote against, abstain or absent themselves from the vote.
Both Croatia and Austria abstained in 2009 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Goldstone Commission report on Operation Cast Lead, a vote that was seen at the time as a good indication of where Israel could and could not draw support. Albania voted against Israel in that vote.
Of the countries where Netanyahu is headed, Poland and Hungary both voted for Israel and against adopting the Goldstone report, while Romania and Bulgaria abstained. In that vote, the 27 EU countries split, with seven voting for Israel, five voting against and the rest abstaining.
Lieberman’s visit to Albania marks the first visit there by an Israeli foreign minister in 17 years. He will take part in an economic forum and will be accompanied by representatives of 16 Israeli firms.