Peace with Palestinians not imminent: Lieberman

AFP , Saturday 7 Dec 2013

Avigdor Lieberman
Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (Photo: AFP)

Israeli Foreign Minister Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has said Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are unlikely to bear fruit within the envisioned nine-month timeframe but that dialogue should continue.

His remarks Friday evening contrasted with those of US Secretary of State John Kerry, who said peace was closer than it had been in years.

Speaking to the Saban Centre for Middle East Policy in Washington and quoted on its website, Lieberman said: "Today the trust between the two sides is about zero. It's impossible to create peace if you don't have any credibility.

"I don't believe it is possible in the next year... to achieve a comprehensive solution to achieve some breakthrough but I think it is crucial to keep our dialogue."

He said it was crucial "because, even if you are not able to resolve the conflict, it's very important to manage this conflict."

Kerry, speaking Friday at the end of a visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories and talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, was upbeat despite the negotiations he brokered having made little visible headway since they began in late July.

"I believe we are closer than we have been in years to bringing about the peace and the prosperity and the security that all of the people of this region deserve," Kerry said.

Lieberman is on his first trip to Washington since regaining his post last month after being cleared of corruption charges, and is there for talks with Kerry and with UN chief Ban Ki-Moon.

The right-wing leader quit in December 2012 after being charged with fraud and breach of trust.

His trip comes as Israel lobbies intensely for a tougher position from Washington in talks between major powers and Iran on its controversial nuclear programme, which were buoyed by a landmark interim deal last month.

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