Avigdor Lieberman officially took his place as Israel’s new defense minister on Monday, and both his and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s first order of business was to reaffirm their commitment to a “two-state solution” to the conflict with the Palestinians.
At a press conference welcoming Lieberman and his small Israel Beiteinu party into the coalition, Netanyahu said he was ready to engage the Palestinians and the Arab world at large on the basis of the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative.
“I remain committed to making peace with the Palestinians and with all our neighbors. The Arab Peace Initiative contains positive elements that could help revive constructive negotiations with the Palestinians. We are willing to negotiate with the Arab states revisions to that initiative so that it reflects the dramatic changes in our region since 2002, but maintains the agreed goal of two states for two peoples,” said the prime minister.
Lieberman, often maligned as an extremist, said he agreed with Netanyahu’s points, “including the two-state solution. I often spoke about recognition of the solution of two states for two peoples.”
Both Netanyahu and Lieberman praised a recent speech by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi in which the latter offered to help kick-start the peace process.