Yesterday’s comments by new Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, spelling out the Netanyahu government’s intention to distance itself from the US-sponsored peace initiative involving Palestinian statehood, have already yielded a negative reaction at home and abroad, providing the first of what looks to be a long line of foreign policy crises for the new government.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit called Lieberman’s position an “insult,” and said he wouldn’t shake his Israeli counterpart’s hand unless he changed his position. Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said he felt that the “blunt, very aggressive” comments were a change in tone from the government, but added that the previous government hadn’t really honored the Annapolis process either, so it probably didn’t signal a real policy change.
J Street, one of the pro-Israel lobbies in the US, has launched a campaign condemning Lieberman’s appointment as foreign minister, saying they are “deeply concerned” by what the controversial minister will do to US-Israel relations.
Even at home, the Netanyahu government wasn’t spared. Tzipi Livni, the leader of the opposition and just days prior the foreign minister herself, said Lieberman’s comments made it clear that the new government would not be a partner for peace.