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After Kerry's hopes, Israeli minister downplays chances of peace deal

February 10, 2014 at 10:59 am

On Friday Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman ruled out that Palestinians and Israelis will reach any peace agreement and said both sides are at a “dead end.”

Speaking at the SABAN Centre for Middle East Policy in Washington, Lieberman did not see a “chance to achieve a comprehensive agreement.” He said: “We are at a dead end.”

Regarding the ongoing efforts of US Secretary of State John Kerry, who is currently visiting the region to work on the peace talks, Lieberman said: “There may have been something dramatic that I do not know about.”

He continued to be pessimistic: “My feeling is that there is great desire but I do not think it is possible. It is not easy to bridge the gaps. We are not even close to a deal, not even an interim one. That is my estimate.”

Lieberman’s remarks completely contradict what Kerry said on Thursday and Friday, that “I believe we are closer than we have been in years in bringing about the peace and prosperity and security that all the people in this region deserve.”

According to Yedioth Ahronoth, Lieberman is to meet Kerry in Washington on Sunday. The meeting would be important, the website noted, because former US secretary of state Hilary Clinton has refused to meet Lieberman more than twice.

Lieberman said that negotiations should not have started with security and refugees. They should have started with building trust. “The trust between the two sides is non-existent,” he said. “It is hard to make peace when you do not believe the other side.”

The extremist Israeli minister described the peace negotiations as a “prolonged process” that may take a very long time without any achievement.

“We appreciate the efforts, but we must not create expectations,” he said. “If you create expectations and do not succeed, you create frustration.”

He also expressed his opinion regarding the land exchange. “I am not in favour of transferring people. I am in favour of exchanging territory,” he said.

The minister, who lives in an Israeli settlement built on occupied Palestinian land, said: “If I were sure that a comprehensive agreement and a stable peace could be achieved, I would evacuate my settlement and my home.”

Commenting on Israeli-American relations, Yedioth Ahronoth reported him saying: “There is no substitute for the US, but we need to guard ourselves and not rely on the US… we must diversify our policy, be creative.”