Israel FM says no chance of Palestinian state by 2012

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Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Tuesday told his Russian counterpart that he saw no chance of meeting international aspirations for Palestinian statehood within 18 months.

"I do not see any chance of a Palestinian state arising by 2012," Lieberman said at a joint press conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

"The reality is that we are still far from reaching understandings and agreements on the founding of an independent Palestinian state by 2012."

The Middle East Quartet (Russia, the United States, the United Nations and the European Union) in March had called for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement within 24 months leading to a two-state solution.

Lieberman said he had spoken with Lavrov about US-brokered indirect peace talks launched in May following months of shuttle diplomacy by US Middle East envoy George Mitchell, who returned to the region on Tuesday.

Lavrov said that the lack of progress in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks was liable to encourage radicalisation among Palestinians and said he hoped the indirect talks would soon lead to direct negotiations.

Alone among the Quartet members, Russia openly holds political contacts with the Islamist Hamas movement ruling the Gaza Strip, which is blacklisted as a terrorist group by Israel, the United States and the European Union.

© 2010 AFP

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