JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israel's new hard-line foreign minister immediately distanced himself Wednesday from the 2007 relaunch of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians adopted by his predecessor, Tzipi Livni.
Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the far-right Yisrael Beytenu movement, said the Annapolis agreement was never adopted by Israel's government and is not binding. He said Israel is bound to follow the "road map" process, started earlier this decade.
The road map, put together by the Mideast Quartet -- composed of the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States -- calls on Israel to stop settlement building and Palestinians to stop terrorism.
The Annapolis Peace Conference, held in November 2007 in Annapolis, Maryland, brought together Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to discuss a joint statement signed by the two Mideast leaders and U.S. President George W. Bush calling for a two-state solution.
State Department spokesman Gordon Duguid said Wednesday that the United States stands by what was achieved at the Annapolis talks and supports "the two-state solution, and we will continue to work for that." Of the differences between U.S. policy and statements by the new Israel government, Duguid said, "We haven't heard their proposals yet. We haven't sat down with them."
But Israelis generally have become frustrated with the peace processes and have moved to the right in recent years, because of the war with Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Hamas rocket attacks on southern Israeli cities that sparked the country's Gaza offensive. Yisrael Beytenu, which had a successful showing in recent elections and has become a major power in Israeli party politics, is a beneficiary of that right-wing trend.
Lieberman made the remarks in front of Livni during the handover ceremony at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem. He took office after the formation of a new government led by Benjamin Netanyahu.
Palestinian officials have been critical of Lieberman's positions on Israeli-Palestinian matters and are pessimistic about the new government's will in forging the necessary compromises to reach a peace.
Netanyahu "does not believe in peace," Abbas said Wednesday, according to a report from WAFA, the Palestinian Authority's news agency. He urged the world to put pressure on the new Israeli prime minister to make peace.
Lieberman's remarks underscore concerns about the Israeli government's way forward regarding peace talks. They come a day after Netanyahu made conciliatory comments about relations with the Palestinians but stopped short of endorsing a two-state solution, the end result foreseen in both the road map and the Annapolis processes.
Abbas was also quoted as saying, "Netanyahu never believed in a two-state solution or accepted signed agreements and does not want to stop settlement activity. This is obvious."
Netanyahu and Lieberman may not believe in the two-state solution, but we would like to propose something new: the two-name solution.
Allow us to explain.
Whoever Zionism’s elected leaders are and whatever their agenda may be, they are playing with Jewish lives. Jews who simply want to follow the religion of their fathers and grandfathers and have nothing to do with Zionism are, in the eyes of the world, automatically associated with whatever the Zionists do, and their lives are on the line. Their suffering furthers the Zionists’ agenda.
Every country has a most valuable natural resource. The Zionists have long known that their only natural resource is Jewish blood. During the Holocaust, the Zionists realized that the death of millions of Jews would be their greatest asset at the bargaining table after the war when they would demand a state. “Only through blood will the land be ours,” they said, and therefore they did nothing to help Jews escape from Europe.
When Jews suffer persecution somewhere in the world, the Zionists rush to reap the benefits, bringing those Jews to strengthen their state and fight in their wars. In countries where no persecution exists, the Zionists help create it.
After Jews are lured from their home countries to the war zone created by the Zionists, they find themselves in danger, and then the Zionists cry out, “We have the right to defend ourselves!” The suffering of these Jews becomes justification for the Zionists’ wars to further their agenda.
Even the economic benefits offered by the Zionists to lure in their hapless victims are illusive. They have no viable economy, and Jews in the rest of the world have to support them. Well, we could forgive them for taking our money, but the Jewish people don’t have blood to spare.
Enter the two-name solution. Call yourselves what you are – Zionists – and let us be Jews. Cease to use the Jews by acting in their name. Do what you want, but don’t bank on our blood. On this Passover, the festival of our freedom, let our message be: it’s time for Jews to be free of Zionism.
In truth, Lieberman has already proposed elements of this two-name solution. He has said that everyone in the Zionist state, Jew or gentile, should pledge allegiance to the Zionist state or else lose his rights as a citizen. He has proposed giving citizenship to any gentile immigrant, without any conversion, as long as he is prepared to make that pledge. We see this as a step in the right direction, a step toward the complete separation between Zionism and Judaism. Anti-Zionist Jews will recoil from making such a pledge of allegiance, whereas gentiles and Jews who want nothing of Judaism will accept it. Let this proposed pledge be an opportunity for all Torah Jews to proudly proclaim together: “We are Jews, not Zionists.” Let us go our separate ways, and let there be an end to the Zionists’ use of the Jewish people!