Israel’s new foreign minister says his government is not bound by the Annapolis peace conference to pursue the creation of a Palestinian state.
In his inaugural speech, ultranationalist Avigdor Lieberman said a joint declaration made by Israelis and Palestinians at the 2007 talks had “no validity.” His comments could put Benjamin Netanyahu’s new administration on a collision course with the US, which remains committed to Palestinian statehood. At a ceremony marking the transition of power, Israel’s President reminded the new prime minister that the world overwhelmingly supports a two-state solution. “Your government must determine the shape of the coming reality,” Shimon Peres declared. He stopped short of an explicit call for Netanyahu to endorse a Palestinian state. It is something the hawkish Likud leader has previously shied away from doing. A political source close to the premier said his foreign minister’s remarks on Annapolis largely reflected Netanyahu’s own position. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has been quoted as saying Israel’s new leader “does not believe in peace.” An aide to Abbas added that Avigdor Lieberman’s stance on the Annapolis accord may undermine security.