Is­raeli for­eign min­is­ter casts doubt on talks

The Kansas City Star (Sunday) - - WORLD WATCH | - The As­so­ci­ated Press

Is­rael’s hard-line for­eign min­is­ter said Tues­day that there was “no chance” a Pales­tinian state would be es­tab­lished by 2012 — a mes­sage that threat­ened to cloud the lat­est visit by Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s Mideast en­voy.

The com­ments by For­eign Min­is­ter Avig­dor Lieber­man drew swift Pales­tinian con­dem­na­tions and could put Is­rael at odds with the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity, which has set a 2012 tar­get for bro­ker­ing a peace deal be­tween Is­rael and the Pales­tini­ans.

“As an op­ti­mist, I see no chance that a Pales­tinian state will be es­tab­lished by 2012,” Lieber­man said at a news con­fer­ence with Rus­sian For­eign Min­is­ter Sergey Lavrov. “We can ex­press in­ter­est, we can dream, but in re­al­ity, we are still far from reach­ing un­der­stand­ings and agree­ments on es­tab­lish­ing an in­de­pen­dent state by 2012.”

White House en­voy Ge­orge Mitchell was set to me­di­ate a fifth round of in­di­rect talks be­tween the sides start­ing to­day. Mitchell is try­ing to prod Is­rael and the Pales­tini­ans into di­rect ne­go­ti­a­tions.

It wasn’t clear whether Lieber­man was ex­press­ing his own opin­ion or govern­ment pol­icy. A spokesman for Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu re­fused to com­ment.


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