Benjamin Netanyahu’s offer to make Avigdor Lieberman Foreign Minister could put Israel on a collision course with the Obama administration:
The agreement with Yisrael Beitenu is the first Netanyahu has initialed on his way toward setting up a coalition. The government taking shape would include nationalist and Orthodox Jewish parties that take a harder line on Palestinian and Arab issues than the outgoing administration of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
Netanyahu has criticized last year’s U.S.-sponsored peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, aimed at partitioning the land and establishing a Palestinian state. The talks made little progress.
Netanyahu favors focusing on efforts to bolster the Palestinian economy, leaving issues like borders, sovereignty and Israeli settlements for a later stage.
In defiance of Israeli commitments to international plans, Netanyahu also favors expanding Israel’s West Bank Jewish settlements.
That could put Israel on a collision course with the Palestinians and the new Obama administration. In a recent visit, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the goal of negotiations must be the creation of a Palestinian state living next to Israel in peace.
Blake Hounshell from Foreign Policy’s Passport blog says you can kiss the peace process goodbye:
If so, you can kiss the peace process goodbye for a while, if it is not gone for good. Israel’s international standing is going to take a major nosedive.
Already, EU foreign affairs chief Javier Solana has warned that the way “the European Union will relate to an (Israeli) government that is not committed to a two-state solution will be very, very different.”
Lieberman’s party, Yisrael Beitenu, is getting five additional cabinet slots, including internal security.
But Charles Levinson from the Wall Street Journal says not so fast:
The 50-year-old immigrant from Moldova, however, also embodies many of the contradictions in Israeli politics. He has advocated a more moderate approach toward the peace process than most on the right, including Mr. Netanyahu. As a minister in outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s government, he supported the establishment of a Palestinian state and is widely reported to have agreed to Mr. Olmert’s plans to divide Jerusalem as part of a final peace deal.