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PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2009 12:19 pm 
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government was sworn in Tuesday - just one day later his foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, set off a firestorm by saying he judged Israel was no longer bound by agreements reached at the late-2007 peace conference convened by the U.S. in Annapolis, Maryland.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul-Gheit was one of the first to react. He said he would not shake hands with Lieberman until Lieberman reversed his position on Annapolis - and also retracted some public slights he had earlier voiced against Egypt. Given Egypt's close alliance with the United States, the verbal battle between the two allies spelled big trouble for Washingon's posture in the Middle East. Lieberman's words also increased the numbers of voices in the region calling for the U.S. to distance itself from the Netanyahu government.

In Ramallah, leaders of the Palestinian Authority (PA) continued to insist they would not return to the peace talks that were interrupted during Israel's recent war on Gaza unless Israel followed through on promises - made at Annapolis and elsewhere - that they would halt all new construction in the settlements in the occupied West Bank.


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