A peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians will not be achieved in the foreseeable future, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Sunday.
Speaking at a conference of his ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party, Lieberman said a complete peace agreement that included an end of the conflict and Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state was unattainable, even with significant concessions and territorial compromise.
Peace was impossible, "not next year and not for the next generation", Lieberman said.
His comments came as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas prepared for a second face-to-face meeting, after kicking off new U.S.-sponsored peace talks in Washington last week.
"I agree that Abu Mazen is against terror and will not fight Israel, but that is not enough," he said, referring to Abbas by a popular nickname. "Abu Mazen will not sign an agreement with Israel."
"However, there is no reason to be worried," Lieberman added. "I repeat: Abu Mazen will not fight us... The only practical solution is a long term interim agreement, on which we can debate. Our proposal is: No to unilateral concessions, no to continuing the settlement freeze, yes to serious negotiations and mutual gestures of good faith."
Lieberman's comments are at odds with the statements by his collation partner, Netanyahu, in the weekly cabinet meeting earlier Sunday, in which the prime minister reaffirmed his belief that a deal is possible.
"In order to achieve a practical agreement we must think of new solutions to old problems, " said Netanyahu. "I am willing to reach a compromise with or neighbors, while protecting our security interests."
He added: "In the past, Israel has proved itself willing make concessions for peace. However, this time it is crucial to learn from our mistakes and think creatively."
Netanyahu said that he hoped Abbas was also willing to face the upcoming challenges.
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