Israel's new foreign minister is Avigdor Lieberman, the man who has said Israel's Arab citizens should sign loyalty oaths. Today, officially accepting his new position, Lieberman engaged in even more Orwellian rhetoric.
"By uttering the word peace 20 times a day we won't make peace," he said. "Those who want peace should prepare for war and be strong."
In his speech, Lieberman stated that Israel is not bound to the agreement made at Annapolis in 2007, in which Israel and 40 other countries vowed to pursue a two-state solution. Instead, Lieberman said the new Israeli government would follow the Bush-backed "road map," which makes a Palestinian state contingent upon an end to all militant activity. That plan requires Israel to freeze new settlement activity but not to dismantle any current settlements. And Lieberman is far from a loose cannon; his position fully represents that of the new government. Haaretz reports:
A source in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's party confirmed Wednesday that his new government intended to distance itself from U.S.-sponsored understandings on working towards a Palestinian state. Asked about ultra-nationalist Lieberman's remark that Israel was no longer bound by the 2007 framework, the source replied: "There is no problem here. He (Lieberman) is distancing himself from the Annapolis label, as the government intends to do."
This is a major challenge to President Obama and his envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell. This Israeli government is not the partner they are looking for. In the words of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, "We want to tell the world that this man doesn't believe in peace and therefore we cannot deal with him. ... The world should put pressure on him."
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