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Israel Dismisses EU Official's Peace Timetable

Israel's foreign minister has dismissed a European Union call for the United Nations to recognize a Palestinian state if Israelis and Palestinians fail to reach a peace agreement.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Israeli radio Monday that peace must be negotiated, not "imposed."

Lieberman was responding to a speech by EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, in which he called for the international community to set a timetable for a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians.

Solana said it was up to mediators to set a deadline. He also said the international community's solution should be put in place if the Israeli and Palestinian governments failed to meet the deadline.

Palestinian officials welcomed Solana's suggestion.

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to meet with him immediately to restart peace talks.

Mr. Netanyahu told his Cabinet he is ready for talks with the Palestinian leader on political issues and economic cooperation.

Mr. Abbas's government in the West Bank has said it will not restart peace talks unless Israel stops all settlement activities in the territory.

The Palestinian and Israeli leaders have not met since Mr. Netanyahu took office in March.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.