on the cypriot model

israeli terrorist avigdor lieberman is in rome meeting with franco frattini where he talked about the joys of being an illegal colonist in the west bank (let’s be clear whatever collaborator who actually speaks with him definitely does not speak for all palestinians!) as well as what a colossal waste of money the “peace process” (read: war process) has been (imagine something i actually agree with lieberman on!). but he also suggested his plan for ethnic cleansing (or “transfer” in his terms) in his meeting:

Lieberman told Frattini that between five and seven years are needed to reach a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Israeli foreign minister was pessimistic about the prospects of establishing a Palestinian state. He repeated his assertion that “two states for two peoples” had become a clichéd slogan that was tailored for newspaper headlines.

During his talks with Frattini, Lieberman also recalled his experiences living in the West Bank settlement of Nokdim.

“I’m a settler and I live in the Judean desert,” Lieberman told Frattini. “I speak with Palestinians who work near us and I hear that what they want is to earn a living and lead a decent life.”

Lieberman added that the Palestinians are dismissive of their leaders’ efforts to reach a political solution. It was at this point that the foreign minister delved into what he called “the peace industry.”

“This is a process with no results,” Lieberman said. “Everyone is earning a living off of it. There are conferences and there are meetings in five-star hotels. Do you know how much money has been spent on this? And what has come of it?”

Lieberman spoke glowingly of the “Cypriot model” which includes an exchange of populations – as a possible template for a solution to the Middle East impasse. In the 1970s, the Mediterranean island was partitioned in two, with Turks in the north and Greeks in the south. “Since then, there has been security, economic prosperity, and stability,” Lieberman said of Cyprus. “When we have [such a solution] in our region then we can talk about a political solution. Everything before this will simply fail.”

clearly lieberman is smoking some serious crack cocaine if he thinks this is how cypriots feel. they feel a lot more like palestinians as you will see below. check out this recent article in the guardian by helena smith and consider its implications for palestinian refugees who continue to fight for their right of return to their homes in palestine:

Like so many Cypriots, Meletis Apostolides has long been haunted by memories of a lost past.

All his adult life he has yearned to return to his boyhood home – and this week, nearly 35 years after war left what should be an idlyllic corner of the Levant brutally divided, the European court of justice brought him one step closer to fulfilling that dream.

Even now, in late middle age, the architect can still recall the scent of the lemon trees, the smell of the sea, the dappled light that filtered through the citrus orchards of Lapithos, the village in Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus where he and his ancestors were born.

“It’s never gone,” he says, homing in, with Google Earth, on the property his family was forced to flee when Turkey, in the name of protecting its minority on the island, invaded in 1974.

The Apostolides family – like 170,000 other Greek Cypriots forcibly displaced at the time – always thought they’d be back. Instead, with only minutes to gather their possessions, and with the Turkish military entrenching its positions in response to a coup aimed at uniting the island with Greece, they found themselves turned into refugees, and robbed of their past overnight.

“The only thing my mother, Andriani, managed to take were her threads and embroideries,” says Apostolides, 24 at the time. “We left photo albums, everything. People think that [my legal battle] has been all about money, when actually it is about roots, memory and culture. My family had lived in that part of the island since 1860.”

In Cyprus’ supercharged politics few issues excite more passion than that of properties lost during the conflict. In the war’s wake peace talks aimed at resolving the west’s longest-running diplomatic dispute have repeatedly collapsed on the matter of refugees’ rights and land exchange. Enraged by the European court’s decision to back Apostolides’s claim to property – since bought by a retired British couple – Turkish Cypriot politicians have threatened to walk out of reunification talks.

“Cypriots are very attached to their land. In England you had an industrial revolution, here we did not,” said Cyprus’s former president George Vasiliou. “Until fairly recently people lived from their land so it meant a lot to them, and before the invasion northern Cyprus was almost exclusively Greek. Then there is memory. That plays a role too.”

Like many on either side of the ethnic divide, Apostolides returned with his mother – and their title deeds – to see his home in 2003, the year that Turkish Cypriot authorities lifted restrictions on intercommunal travel. “It was the first, and only time, that my mother would see it after the war,” he recalls.

But it was a previous visit – one by a Turkish Cypriot colleague who had once lived in the island’s Greek-run south – that spurred the silver-haired architect into action. As an early proponent of interethnic contact in the 90s, Apostolides participated in an organised tour by Turkish Cypriot architects around the south. “One of them, who would go on to become a great friend, was desperate to revisit his family home in Limassol,” he said. “When the Greek Cypriots living in the house opened the door, he produced a framed picture from his rucksack and said ‘finally I have fulfilled my parents’ wish to return home’. The Greek Cypriots immediately put it on the mantelpiece. At that moment I identified with him so much. It was such a powerful thing.”

When Apostolides pressed charges against Linda and David Orams, the East Sussex couple who built their dream home on his land in 2002, he never envisaged the case would cause such a furore. “I decided to take legal action after a chance meeting with Mrs Orams on the plot in 2003,” he says. “She was out watering the plants and when I asked her who she was, she said ‘I am the owner of this villa’. I said ‘I am the owner of the land’ and she responded by saying ‘well that was a long time ago’.”

Five days after the European court pronounced that the UK judiciary should enforce the decision of a Nicosia court to return the property to its original owner, and demolish the villa to boot, the affair looks set to run and run – not least among the estimated 6,000 Britons who have also picked up properties at bargain prices in the territory that is only recognised by Ankara.

Yesterday despondent rosy-cheeked expats, living in the scenic villages above the picturesque port of Kyrenia, refused to comment, with one denouncing the case “as Greek Cypriot lies and bulls*&^”.

But, says Vasiliou: “Greek Cypriots may feel justice has been rendered, that property is sacrosanct. However, serious people on this island also know that the best way to solve this issue is through speeding up negotiations and reaching a settlement, not taking individual cases to court.”

Apostolides, the man of the moment, would agree. While his is a victory, he says, it springs from a lost past.

i just hope this bodes well for more cypriots and for palestinians in the near future.

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