"I HAVE three answers," the Jew told the rabbi when his neighbor sued him for not returning a borrowed jar.
"First, I never borrowed a jar from him. Second, the jar was broken. Third, I returned it to him long ago."
Avigdor Lieberman's Peace Plan shows a similar kind of logic.
PEACE PLAN? Lieberman? Oh yes. Contrary to everything you thought, Lieberman wants peace, indeed is yearning for peace. So much so that he has spent days and nights working out an entire Peace Plan of his own.
This week he summoned Israel's 170 senior diplomats, the elite of our foreign service, and revealed his thoughts to them. The opinions of the Foreign Minister are of course binding for the diplomats, and from now on they constitute the guiding line for all Israeli diplomatic missions around the world.
But first of all, Lieberman settled accounts with the Turks. They demand an apology from Israel for the killing of nine Turkish activists on the ship that tried to break the Gaza blockade. The Turks also demand that Israel pay indemnities to the bereaved families. They insist that the Israeli soldiers unlawfully attacked the Turkish ship on the high seas and shot the unarmed activists.
"There is no limit to their Chutzpah," Lieberman thundered. Everybody knows that the Turks themselves attacked our soldiers who abseiled innocently from their helicopters and were compelled to shoot in self-defense.
Lieberman knew, of course, that Netanyahu was negotiating with the Turks in order to put an end to the conflict. The Minister of Defense, Ehud Barak, and the army chiefs were putting pressure on him to reestablish good relations with Ankara, and especially with the Turkish military - " relations, they believe, that are of major strategic value for Israel. The Turks on their part, know that Israel controls the US Congress and therefore also believe that a compromise would be good for them. Netanyahu's emissary was looking for a formula that would be short of an apology and yet satisfy Ankara.
Lieberman has put an end to this appeasement. Netanyahu cannot afford to look like a wimp next to his macho Foreign Minister. So he declared that he would never ever apologize.
For Lieberman, that was a major victory. Netanyahu capitulated. Barak was humiliated. The Turks remain enemies. What more can a Foreign Minister hope for?
But Lieberman does not rest on his laurels for a moment. At the same meeting with the select 170 he laid out his great plan, Plan B.
Just a moment. If this is Plan B, what is Plan A?
Netanyahu, of course, has no peace plan. His declared position is that the Palestinians must return to direct negotiations without prior conditions, but only after they officially recognize Israel as "the state of the Jewish people" (or, in another version, as a "Jewish and democratic state.") It is clear that the Palestinians cannot be expected to agree to any such prior condition.
So what "Plan A" does Lieberman allude to? Not to Netanyahu's, but to Barack Obama's. The American president speaks about two states with the border between them based on the 1967 lines and a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem.
On no account, says Lieberman. And, like the Jew who was sued for the jar, he also has his three reasons:
First, we have no partner for peace.