FM Lieberman says Israel will abide by Roadmap peace plan
In an interview with the Haaretz newspaper a few hours after being sworn into office yesterday, newly-elected Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that "Israel undertook obligations regarding the Roadmap peace process and will honour them." He added that there must be reciprocity from the Palestinian side regarding these agreements. Lieberman criticised the previous government for not following through on their statements and noted that his policy will be to carry out all agreements ratified by the government.
As the new foreign minister, Lieberman added, "We will carry out everything that is in writing, and there will be no contradiction between what we say and what we mean, but we will stick to the phased nature of the Roadmap. We will conduct talks with the PA, but we want to make sure their 'checks' don't bounce. The Palestinians must first of all confront terror, take control of Gaza and demilitarize Hamas. Without these, it will be difficult to move forward." According to the first phase of the Roadmap peace plan, Israel agreed to remove checkpoints, roadblocks and outposts in the West Bank, while the Palestinians are expected to take active measures against terror activity and improve the operation of the PA security forces.
Lieberman's clarifications came several hours after the incoming foreign minister said Israel is not committed to the understandings reached in the Annapolis summit of 2007. Lieberman spoke at a ceremony at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem which marked his entry to office. In the speech, Lieberman expressed his opposition to concessions in Israel's negotiations with its Arab counterparts. The ceremony was attended by dozens of diplomats, who expressed their surprise by the message of the new foreign minister. A spokesman for the US National Security Council commented yesterday on Lieberman's remarks. "The president has said many times that we are committed to the establishment of a democratic Palestinian state living side by side with Israel in peace and security," Mike Hammer said.
Meanwhile, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini called Lieberman yesterday to congratulate him and invited him on an official visit to Italy. Lieberman also spoke with European Union Foreign Policy