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."

Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
News
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
The John Peel Lecture has previously been given by Pete Townshend of The Who, Billy Bragg and Charlotte Church
musicGodfather of punk will speak on 'free music in a capitalist society'
News
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
News
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
tech
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments