Though only in office for a few weeks, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has dramatically redefined Israel’s official foreign policy on a number of fronts. His first major act was to declare the stalled peace talks with the Palestinians dead, sparking both international and domestic outrage. In his first media interview he announced that he was replacing Iran as Israel’s worst threat, bestowing that honor on Pakistan, and declared that the United States would accept any decision the Israeli government made on the peace process.
Now, having dispatched of Iran’s position as Israel’s gravest threat, Lieberman surprised even further by declaring that Israel would not attack Iran, even if international sanctions fail to convince Iran to abandon its civilian nuclear program.
Virtually the centerpiece of Israel’s foreign policy for the last several years has been its nearly weekly suggestions that they may attack Iran in the near future. Abandoning this policy would be a major change for Israel, and shocking coming from the hawkish Lieberman, whose previous cabinet position as Minister of Strategic Affairs was created specifically to coordinate military, intelligence and diplomatic initiatives against Iran.
Not that the foreign minister objects to the idea of attacking Iran. Instead, while he supports “severe sanctions, very severe sanctions,” and “harsher and more effective sanctions” at the moment, he said Israel should not be expected to “resolve militarily the entire world’s problem,” instead suggesting that “the United States, as the largest power in the world, take responsibility.”