Analysis by Tobias Buck and Roula Khalaf
12 Apr 09 | FT
It has been a tough few months for Israel’s diplomatic corps. At the start of the year, diplomats were fending off accusations that Israel was using excessive force in its offensive against the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. After that conflict they faced a torrent of allegations that their actions had amounted to war crimes, claims that they deny.
Just when diplomats thought things could not get worse, Avigdor Lieberman (pictured) arrived to take the helm at the foreign ministry. The leader of the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party made clear he has no intention of treading softly. Taking the stage this month at the handover ceremony in Jerusalem, he delivered a scathing critique of the previous government’s efforts to strike a peace deal with the Palestinians to create an independent state.
Although the two-state solution dominates diplomacy to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict, now more than 60 years old, Mr Lieberman asked: “Does anyone think that concessions and constantly saying, ‘I am prepared to concede’, and using the word ‘peace’ will lead to anything? No, that will just invite pressure and more and more wars.” Officials and diplomats were shocked. “We all felt that we are in for one hell of a ride,” says one official present. Mr Lieberman “was effectively saying: ‘I am exactly the guy you thought I was.’ ” >>>