Israel Defense Minister Doesn’t See Peace Deal in His ‘Lifetime’

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said he doesn’t believe he will live to see a “stable agreement” with the Palestinians, the latest comments from within the government to cast doubt on its commitment to the peace process.

“We don’t want to rule over the Palestinians,” Ya’alon, 64, said at Israel’s Herzliya Conference, held just north of Tel Aviv. After citing examples of what he termed Palestinian “obstinacy” in rejecting previous peace deals, he added: “I don’t expect to see a stable agreement during my lifetime, and I intend to live a bit longer.”

The Palestinians didn’t accept two peace offers previous Israeli governments made that fell short of their demands.

The latest round of U.S.-sponsored peace talks collapsed last year. An Israeli election in March returned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to office, while strengthening parts of his coalition government opposed to granting the Palestinians an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as part of a final peace deal.

Netanyahu himself sparked international criticism after saying just prior to the election that no Palestinian state would arise while he was prime minister. He later said he remains committed in principle to a two-state peace solution, while insisting on conditions, such as recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, that the Palestinians have said they will not accept.

In May, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said Israeli diplomats had been too apologetic about the conflict with the Palestinians, speaking of Israel’s “right to the land” under dispute.

Settlement Freeze

Since peace talks broke down, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has denounced Netanyahu’s refusal to freeze settlement construction in the West Bank, and taken steps to further the statehood campaign by joining international bodies and treaties, including the international war crimes tribunal.

Ya’alon said Tuesday that if the Israeli military is not free to take action in the West Bank, it will result in the establishment there of a “Hamastan,” referring to the Hamas Islamist movement that rules Gaza and is classified as a terrorist group by Israel, the U.S. and European Union.

Israel is looking for steps that will allow both sides “to live in prosperity, honor and security, without illusions,” he said.

For more, read this QuickTake: A Two-State Solution