"It is not possible to reach a permanent peace agreement with the Palestinians," former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Saturday during an interview with Channel 2's "Meet the Press." Lieberman suggested that Israel should instead seek a long-term interim deal.
"This [situation] is impossible. It is not possible to solve the conflict here. The conflict can be managed and it is important to manage the conflict ... to negotiate on a long-term interim agreement. This is the only possible thing to do," Lieberman said.
Lieberman linked the more than two-year diplomatic impasse with the Palestinians to the widespread political upheaval in the region, which has boosted Islamist elements hostile to the Jewish state.
"Anyone who thinks that in the center of this socio-diplomatic ocean, this tsunami which is jarring the Arab world, it is possible to arrive at the magic solution of a comprehensive peace with the Palestinians does not understand," Lieberman said.
According to Lieberman, Israel's position has not changed, and it is prepared to engage in negotiations with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas without preconditions and without Hamas. Abbas has demanded that Israel first freeze all settlement construction.
Lieberman said the ball was "in Abbas' court" to revive diplomacy.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's spokesman Mark Regev pointed out that during the interview Lieberman had said he was expressing his own opinion.
Asked how Netanyahu viewed prospects for an accord with the Palestinians, Regev referred to a speech on Tuesday in which the prime minister said that Israel, while addressing threats by its enemies, "must also pursue secure, stable and realistic peace with our neighbors."
Meanwhile, a Fatah-Hamas summit held in Cairo on Saturday to implement a domestic Palestinian reconciliation agreement ended without results.
Hamas claimed Abbas was "stalling the implementation of the reconciliation accord until after U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Israel so he can renew negotiations with Israel."
Fatah officials in Cairo announced that Abbas was set to issue an order to the Palestinian Authority Election Committee to set a date within 45 days for general elections. The Fatah delegation also announced that Abbas would appoint a transitional government to preside over Palestinian affairs until the elections.
Hamas officials were outraged at the announcement, warning that "renewal of negotiations between [Abbas] and Israel will lead to the end of the intra-Palestinian reconciliation accord."