Israel FM: 'If You Want Peace, Prepare for War'

Israel's foreign minister refuses to explicitly endorse a two-state solution.

ByABC News
April 2, 2009, 8:27 AM

JERUSALEM, April 2, 2009 — -- Israel's new foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman wasted no time in grabbing the headlines. The controversial and ultra nationalist politician has a reputation as a hardliner and a tough talker. He didn't disappoint on either front.

In his first speech to foreign ministry staffers Wednesday, with outgoing foreign minister Tzipi Livni looking on, he declared that the new government of Benjamin Netanyahu did not consider itself bound to the so-called Annapolis peace process.

That process was launched by President Bush in November 2007 and was formulated with the express goal of establishing the terms of a Palestinian state by the end of 2008. Although the ambitious deadline was missed, both sides, Israeli and Palestinian, conducted many rounds of detailed negotiations during the year. It was considered the focal point of Middle East diplomacy. It was the only game in town.

To tear up the script with such forceful language as Lieberman's grabbed the headlines. Lieberman continued: "Whoever thinks that he will achieve something by way of concessions, no, he will only invite more pressure and more wars. If you want peace, prepare for war."

His tone surprised even the Israeli diplomats in attendance. After hearing his tirade Tzipi Livni is reported to have told Lieberman, "You've convinced me that I was right not to join the government."

She rejected a possible coalition partnership with Netanyahu's Likud and other rightist parties, including Lieberman's own Israel Our Home faction, when he refused to explicitly endorse the creation of a Palestinian state.

And that is the crux of the matter. Does this new Israeli government dominated, but for the presence of Ehud Barak's Labor Party, by right wing ideology, support a two state solution? The solution that is at the heart of U.S. policy?