Photo: AP
Gradual approach. Ayalon
Photo: AP
Agressive speech. Lieberman
Photo: Eli Mandelbaum
Deputy FM: Annapolis conference caused damage
Day after Lieberman said Israel not obligated by Annapolis conference, Danny Ayalon tells Washington Times Netanyahu government supports two-state solution; Saban Center: Tensions between Obama administration, new Israeli regime are already brewing

WASHINGTON – Amid the uproar over Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's aggressive speech, in which he stated that Israel was no longer obligated by the Annapolis conference, his deputy stressed that Benjamin Netanyahu's new government supports a two-state solution within the context of the US-backed Road Map for peace.


In an interview with The Washington Times, published Thursday, Danny Ayalon said Lieberman objects to the final-status talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that emerged from the 2007 Annapolis conference and supports a more gradual process.


According to Ayalon, a former ambassador to Washington, the Annapolis process took "the road map and put it on its head."


"Not only is this against the inner logic of the road map, but also it has proven not only not to be constructive, in fact it was damaging, no solution has been found and there is more violence," he said.


The initial phase of the Road Map calls on the Palestinians to dismantle terror infrastructure and demands that Israel freeze settlement construction and dismantle the illegal West Bank outposts. Since both sides did not live up to these obligations, the Annapolis conference dealt directly with the core issues of a final status peace agreement.


'No basis here for a fight'

Tamara Cofman-Wittes, a senior fellow at the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution told The Washington Times that tensions between the Obama administration and Netanyahu are already brewing.


"What I found interesting was the reaction from the White House to reiterate the two-state vision," she was quoted as saying. "I am not predicting an instant confrontation between Washington and Jerusalem on this issue. I am suggesting if the Obama administration was waiting to hear the new approach from the Israelis before laying out a diplomatic initiative, it is now clear they have a steep hill to climb."


However, Elliott Abrams, a former deputy national security adviser to former US President George W. Bush who helped coordinate Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, told the American daily that he did not interpret Lieberman's remarks as a rejection of the two-state solution.


"The interesting question to me is: What is Lieberman saying? He is not saying that Israel has no commitment to the two-state solution. He may be saying that he does not want to be bound by immediate final-status talks. It seems to me that there is no basis here for a fight between the United States and Israel because everything we really want in policy is in the road map," he said. 


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