Israel's new foreign minister dismisses two-state solution

Far-right Lieberman rejects US-led talks with Palestinians

Far-right politician Avigdor Lieberman stunned diplomats in his first speech as Israel's foreign minister yesterday when he rejected the past year of US-led negotiations and said that a previous commitment Israel made to Palestinian statehood "had no validity".

Mr Lieberman reinforced fears that his government will steer the country in a more hawkish direction when he added that concessions to Palestinians would be "mistaken". The remarks contradicted Israel's previous commitments agreed at the Annapolis conference in 2007, and drew an immediate response from Mike Hammer, a spokesman for the US National Security Council, who emphasised that the US was "committed to the establishment of a democratic Palestinian state living side by side with Israel in peace and security".

Expectations had been raised in recent weeks that Mr Lieberman would seek to soften his image, and that the new hardline government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu would avoid alienating the international community.

Mr Lieberman's speech came a day after Mr Netanyahu offered the Palestinians self-rule in place of the statehood that had at least rhetorically been on offer in a declaration accompanying the relaunch of peace talks under the leadership of Ehud Olmert at the Annapolis conference. But Mr Lieberman said "The Israeli government never ratified Annapolis, nor did parliament."

Mr Lieberman took issue with the very idea of concessions towards the Palestinians saying that "whoever thinks that through concessions peace will be achieved is mistaken. He is only inviting pressure and more wars."

Mr Lieberman said that instead of the Annapolis process, Israel would follow the "road map", the name of a 2003 blueprint of reciprocal steps advancing to a two-state solution. But Israel's cabinet never ratified that agreement, and the government has instead used the term to refer to a cabinet decision spelling out reservations about the plan.

A foreign ministry official admitted that he did not know to which of the two "road maps" Mr Lieberman was referring. The official sought to play down the importance of the speech, saying that "one shouldn't read into it too much. He left a lot of unclear areas about what he means".

The new posture of the Israeli government is certain to complicate the already tenuous position of Palestinian moderates, foremost among them President Mahmoud Abbas, who has staked everything on the two-state solution. "This minister is an obstacle to peace," said Yasser Abed Rabbo, an aide to Mr Abbas. "Nothing obliges us to deal with a racist person hostile to peace."

Tzipi Livni, who in the previous government oversaw the final status negotiations and was present in the Foreign Ministry yesterday, told Mr Lieberman that "your speech has proven to me that I did the right thing by not joining [a national unity government]". And a European diplomat said that the speech did not augur well for Israel's ties with the international community. "Governments work together well when they share objectives," he said. "When they don't, it creates problems."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Hire Manager - Tool Hire

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent