No independent Palestinian state will be established in the next two years, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Tuesday.
Citing the difficulties of peace negotiations and Palestinian divisions during a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Jerusalem, Lieberman said, "There is absolutely no chance of reaching a Palestinian state before the year 2012," adding that "one can dream and imagine, but we are far from reaching an agreement."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who launched U.S.-mediated peace talks with the Palestinians in May, has accepted Palestinian demands for statehood, provided it be demilitarized.
"I'm an optimistic person, and I don't see any chance of a Palestinian state arising before 2012," Lieberman said.
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has floated the idea that Palestinians could declare their statehood independently if peace negotiations do not progress. President Mahmoud Abbas, however, has downplayed this prospect.
Responding to Lieberman's remarks, Lavrov said, "Unilateral actions on both sides should be avoided, in order to prevent an escalation until the final status of Jerusalem is decided."