Arab countries need economic stability, Lieberman says in Munich


BERLIN (JTA) — Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that only economic stability in Arab countries would ensure political stability in the Middle East.

Lieberman, on the eve of opening Israel’s new consulate in Munich, also called for called for stronger ties between Europe and Israel. 

"The main reasons for the recent uprisings is not the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it is not even the Muslim Brotherhood. The reason is misery and poverty," Lieberman said April 7 at a news conference in Berlin with his German counterpart, Guido Westerwelle.

Lieberman, who accompanied Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the German capital last week, presided April 8 over the opening of the new consulate with Bavarian Governor Horst Seehofer and Munich Mayor Christian Ude.

Munich bears a historic symbolism as the birthplace of the Nazi Party.

According to the Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, Israel decided to open the consulate a few months ago, following up on Seehofer’s invitation. An Israeli general consulate was previously located there from 1948 to 1953.

"Israel’s decision … shows our relations [with Germany] are very intensive," Westerwelle told journalists April 7 at the 11th European-Israeli Dialogue forum, which was hosted by the Axel-Springer Verlag media publishers in Berlin.

Westerwelle also said that the current uprisings in Arab lands are "a transformative process" but that a "clear guarantee for the security of Israel" is needed.

Referring to the recent creation of more than 5,000 jobs in Israel for Palestinians, Lieberman called the popular uprisings "an opportunity for the Arab world to move to democracy and prosperity." His main concern, he said, was whether the Arab countries could deliver on their promises.

He also said that Israel should be part of the European Union and NATO, and that he would be discussing these matters in coming weeks with European leaders.

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