Israeli Minister: No Chance for Peace

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Minister of Strategic Affairs and Vice Premier Moshe Ya'alon said there is virtually no chance of reaching an agreement with the Palestinian Authority in the foreseeable future.

"There is no chance in the coming years for a peace agreement with the Palestinians," the former Israel Defense Forces chief of staff told Army Radio.

"In the eyes of the Palestinians, the occupation started in '48 and not in '67," Ya'alon said. "It is not only Hamas that thinks this way…Abu Mazen [PA President Mahmoud Abbas] does too," he said.

"Their refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state shows they have no interest in having Israel as a neighboring state," Ya'alon said.

Ya'alon's remarks follow Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's offer to the Palestinian Authority on Monday to extend the temporary building freeze in Judea and Samaria - the West Bank - if they would recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

"If the Palestinian leadership will unequivocally say to its people that it recognizes Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, I will be ready to convene my government and ask for another suspension of construction for a fixed period," Netanyahu said near the end of his speech marking the opening of the winter session of the Knesset, Israel's parliament.

Click here to read the prime minister's speech in its entirety.

Palestinian Authority officials rejected the offer outright, saying they would never recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

PLO member Yasser Abed Rabo accused Netanyahu of attempting to weaken President Barack Obama's image in the region and divert attention from the key issues.

PA negotiator Saeb Erekat said Netanyahu's "racist demands" cannot be linked to the construction ban.

On Sunday, the Palestinian Authority gave the Obama administration one month to convince Israel to extend the construction ban or forfeit the talks.

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