Israeli FM: Don't Rush to Peace Deal

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JERUSALEM--Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman says a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians seems "impossible" to reach for years to come, and that trying to maintain the illusion that a peace agreement will solve anything now could lead to unfulfilled expectations and more violence.

In an interview with Israeli Radio before a meeting with U.S. Middle East Envoy George Mitchell, Lieberman said that for the 16 years since the Oslo agreement was signed, leaders have rushed to get some kind of a peace agreement before creating the conditions that would allow peace to be created.

Lieberman suggested that the core issues of disagreement between Israel and the Palestinians, such as the status of Jerusalem and the "right of return" for Palestinian refugees and their families be postponed for years.  He proposed instead a long-term interim agreement that might bring calm that could lead to fruitful peace talks.

"You can't coerce peace," Lieberman said.  "You can create peace.  And the correct order is first and foremost security and economy and stability, and afterwards a peace agreement.  Every time, we have tried to change the order."

Lieberman's remarks appeared to be directly aimed at the Obama Administration, which is pushing for a peace agreement within the next two years.

Sources:  The Associated Press, Reuters

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