Peace an illusion, Lieberman to tell US envoy

Israel’s foreign minister said on Thursday he would tell a visiting United States Middle East envoy that there was no chance of reaching a comprehensive peace deal with the Palestinians for many years.

Right-wing foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman is due to meet US President Barack Obama’s Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, in Jerusalem on Thursday to discuss, among other issues, the stalled peace process with the Palestinians.

“I will tell him clearly, there are many conflicts in the world that haven’t reached a comprehensive solution and people learned to live with it,” Lieberman told Israel Radio.

“But together with this, people made the most dramatic decision. To give up using force. To give up terror.
And to stop inciting against one another,” he said.

Obama has made resumption of suspended peace talks a foreign policy priority and invested significant political capital in it last month by organising a meeting of th Israeli and Palestinian leaders in New York, with scant results.

Lieberman, whose Yisrael Beitenu party is junior partner in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, has said in the past that peace efforts with the Palestinians would take many years.

“What is possible to reach is a long-term intermediate agreement ... that leaves the tough issues for a much later stage,” Lieberman said, referring to issues like the future status of Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees and borders.

Tinderbox
Mitchell will meet Israeli and Palestinian leaders this week to try to relaunch peace talks that have been stalled since Israel’s war in the Gaza Strip in January.

King Abdullah of Jordan, whose country has made peace with Israel and plays an important role in advancing the peace process with the Palestinians was quoted on Thursday as saying “we are sliding back into the darkness”.

“Is Israel going to be fortress Israel or is it going to be part of the neighbourhood?” the King asked in an interview with the Israeli daily Haaretz.

The paper said the king had specifically asked it to relay a message to the Israeli people that it should “disavow the illusion that the status quo can be perpetuated”.

He warned that Jerusalem, which the Netanyahu government says is the non-negotiable, non-divisible capital of Israel, “is a tinderbox that will have a major flashpoint throughout the Islamic world”.

Fifteen years after his late father Hussein concluded a peace treaty with Jordan’s Jewish neighbour state, he said, “our relationship is getting colder”.

Lieberman was asked about Abdullah’s warnings but did not address them directly, apart from noting that Jordan had a very large Palestinian population.

“Whoever says that it’s possible to reach in the coming years a comprehensive agreement that means the end of conflict, that both sides sign on the end of conflict, simply doesn’t understand the reality,” Lieberman said.

“He’s spreading illusions and in the end brings disappointment and drags us into comprehensive confrontation.”—Reuters

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