MADRID, Spain (JTA) – Arab leaders have threatened to boycott a European Union summit if Israel’s foreign minister attends.
A defiant Avigdor Lieberman insisted, however, that he will attend the Mediterranean Summit in Barcelona on June 7 in spite of the threats, which are being led by Egypt and Syria.
"I intend to, and I will be there," Lieberman told Israel Radio. "We’re not forcing ourselves on anyone and we’re not forcing anyone else to come."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also is scheduled to attend the summit. Arab countries have boycotted contact with the hard-liine Lieberman since he took office.
Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Ángel Moratinos expressed his hope that 43 countries from the European Union and states bordering the Mediterranean Sea – including Israel, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria, as well as Jordan and the Palestinian Authority – would attend the gathering.
“Israel confirmed yesterday their intention to attend and I hope that everyone is there,” Moratinos said. “The whole region needs to be involved in this historic moment, which is so important for all of us.”
A planned October 2009 summit of foreign ministers of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, including all 27 member states of the European Union, as well as 16 countries in the southern Mediterranean and the Middle East, was canceled after Egypt and other Arab states announced that they would boycott it if Lieberman attended.