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April 01, 2009

Not the Best Start...
Posted by Ilan Goldenberg

The new Israeli Government led by Benjamin Netanyahu took office today.  And things do not look too good.  First this:

Israel's new hard-line foreign minister has said he opposes his predecessor's peace talks with the Palestinians over the past year and warns that making concessions will only invite war.

Avigdor Lieberman delivered his criticism during a handover ceremony at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem. It was his first speech since taking office.

Lieberman's predecessor Tzipi Livni interrupted the speech to disagree with him, and Israeli diplomats shifted uncomfortably in the room as he spoke.

The Netanyahu Government also seemed to make clear that it would be distancing itself from the Annapolis Process. 

A source in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's party confirmed Wednesday that his new government intended to distance itself from U.S.-sponsored understandings on working towards a Palestinian state.

Asked about ultra-nationalist Lieberman's remark that Israel was no longer bound by the 2007 framework, the source replied: "There is no problem here. He (Lieberman) is distancing himself from the Annapolis label, as the government intends to do."

While the Annapolis Process was far from perfect at least it laid out a clear framework for continuing negotiations.  Combined with Netanyahu's disturbing comments  about Iran, the early noises out of the Israeli government are unfortunate across the board.  I guess one can be optimistic about the fact that less than one third of Israelis say they are satisfied with the new government.  But then again that is less about the government and more just another indicator of the dysfunctional nature of Israeli politics these days and the general disillusionment of the population.


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