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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi [file])
"Israel does not take orders from [Barack] Obama," Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) said on Monday, responding to an earlier statement by the US president in which he reaffirmed his administration's commitment to all previous understandings between Israel and the Palestinians, including the process launched at Annapolis, Maryland, in 2007.
Erdan, who is also the liaison between the cabinet and the Knesset, praised Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (Israel Beiteinu), who only last week said Israel was not bound by the Annapolis talks because it had never been approved by the cabinet or the Knesset.
"In voting for [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu the citizens of Israel have decided that they will not become the US's 51st state," said Erdan, who was representing the coalition in a Knesset discussion of Lieberman's controversial statements. He added, however, that "Obama is a friend of Israel and the United States is an important ally, and everything between us will be the result of communication."
The Prime Minister's Office responded to Obama's comments in Turkey by saying, "Israel appreciates President Obama's commitment to Israel's security and to the pursuit of peace."
"The government of Israel is committed to both of these goals and will formulate its policies in the near future so as to work closely with the United States toward achieving these common objectives," the statement read, while not addressing Obama's comments on the Annapolis process and the two-state solution.
Minutes before Obama mentioned Annapolis in Turkey, Lieberman's deputy minister, Danny Ayalon (Israel Beiteinu), heckled Kadima MK Haim Ramon's speech about Annapolis in the Knesset plenum.
"When did you ever hear Obama talk about Annapolis?" the normally mild-mannered Ayalon asked Ramon, interrupting his speech.
Ramon accused Lieberman of harming Israel's relationship with the US by rejecting the American-initiated Annapolis process.
"The entire world is in favor of Annapolis," Ramon said. "If we don't accept two states for two peoples, the world will talk to Hamas. What you are doing is isolating Israel by removing us from the consensus. In December 2008, the UN endorsed the Annapolis process. Foreign ministers of the entire world fought to get to the conference, which was run by the US. If that's not an international obligation, what is?"