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Israel’s FM: Iran is obstacle to Mideast peace | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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JERUSALEM (AP) – Iran is the main obstacle to peace in the Mideast, Israel’s new foreign minister said in an interview published Friday.

Avigdor Lieberman told The Jerusalem Post that it will be “impossible to resolve any problem in our region” without dealing with Iran’s nuclear program and its support for militant groups opposed to Israel, such as Hezbollah and Hamas.

His comments come as differences have appeared between the hard-line government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Obama administration over the peace process. President Barack Obama has said the U.S. seeks a “two-state” solution, with the creation of a Palestinian state next to Israel, while Netanyahu has not publicly embraced the principle.

Israelis have also expressed concern over Obama’s calls for outreach to Iran, which Israel considers its top nemesis.

Lieberman said the obstacle to a peace deal “is not Israel. It is not the Palestinians. It’s the Iranians.” He dismissed the “two-state solution” formula as a “slogan.” Lieberman did not rule out peace talks or a Palestinian state in the interview, saying only that the “right conditions” had to be created. He did not elaborate. His comments came a day after his deputy Danny Ayalon said Iran must be reined in for any realistic hope of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. However, Ayalon said action on Iran was not a “pre-condition” for pursuing peace. Lieberman told the Post that the government was currently preparing its policy platform and that Netanyahu will present it when he meets Obama at the White House in mid-May.

One of Israel’s most divisive politicians, Lieberman led his party to gains in the recent election with a campaign questioning the loyalty of Israel’s one-fifth Arab minority.

Since becoming Israel’s foreign minister, the blunt-talking Lieberman has sparked controversy by dismissing recent peace efforts led by the U.S. Before becoming foreign minister, he riled Israel’s key Egyptian allies by suggesting Egypt’s president should “go to hell.”