Israeli FM predicts no deal with Palestinians in next year

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Friday he doesn’t believe his country can reach a peace deal with Palestinians in the next year. 

Lieberman is in Washington this weekend to participate in Brookings Institution’s Saban Forum and to meet with Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday, according to Haaretz

“To speak frankly, I don’t believe that it’s possible in the next year, this year, to achieve comprehensive solution, to achieve some break-through. But I think that it’s crucial to keep our dialogue,” Lieberman said in an interview at the Saban Forum Friday with the Washington Post’s David Ignatius.

Kerry will deliver the keynote address at the forum Saturday afternoon. He returned to the United States after a two-day trip to the Middle East where he continued negotiations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.

“I believe we are closer than we have been in years to bringing about the peace and the prosperity and the security that all of the people of this region deserve," Kerry told reporters Friday in Tel Aviv before leaving Israel. 

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Kerry kick-started peace talks between the two sides in July, but both the Israelis and Palestinians have recently warned they are deteriorating. The last set of direct talks occurred in early November.

On Friday, Lieberman described the situation as “very, very fragile relations,” and said, “we’re still in deadlock.”

Kerry had aimed to help strike a final status agreement by May 2014.

Lieberman previously served as Israel’s foreign minister, but resigned in late 2012 because of an investigation involving fraud and a breach of public trust. Last month, Lieberman was acquitted and returned to his diplomatic post.

He's the founder of the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu political party. He was originally born in the Soviet Union, and has been living in a Jewish settlement based in the West Bank called Nokdim.

At the forum Friday, he reiterated a previous statement he’s made about leaving the settlement if a two-state solution was achieved with the Palestinians.

“I don’t see any chance to achieve this comprehensive solution,” he said.

Negotiators must not start first with issues involving security and refugees, but rather with trust, confidence and credibility, Lieberman said.

“Today’s trust between the two sides…it’s about zero.”