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Israeli FM: Mideast Peace Not in Foreseeable Future


Israel's foreign minister says there is no possibility of a comprehensive settlement with Palestinians in the next few years.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told a visiting delegation of U.S. Democratic lawmakers Monday that improving security and the Palestinian economy were the most that could be achieved through negotiations.

Lieberman blamed the stalemate on what he called the Palestinian side's "uncompromising, extremist positions" concerning Jerusalem and Jewish settlements.

The foreign minister said Israeli policy must be based on reality and not illusions while maintaining a dialogue with Palestinians.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has vowed to liberate Palestinian land occupied by Israel and establish an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

U.S. officials have been pushing Israel to commit to a settlement freeze to facilitate Arab concessions in the peace process.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused that call, saying limited settlement construction must continue to allow for "natural growth." And he has said Israel's sovereignty over all of Jerusalem is not negotiable.

Also Monday, Lieberman told a meeting of Foreign Ministry officials that one of the country's diplomats should "resign" after criticizing Israeli policy.

Nadav Tamir, Israel's chief diplomat in Boston has come under criticism after warning that the dispute with the U.S. over Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank is causing "strategic damage" to Israel.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.


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