Defense Minister Ehud Barak confirmed on Wednesday that he was to meet Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in the coming days.
At a joint press conference with U.S. envoy to the region George Mitchell, Barak said that during their meeting, the first in five months, he and Fayyad would discuss education and economic issues.
“The objective now is to progress to direct talks with the Palestinians on all issues,” Barak said. Currently, peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians are being conducted in a proximity format, in which mediators shuttle from party to party to relay messages.
“Our demand is that neither side set any preconditions” Barak said.
On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman voiced doubts that a peace agreement could be achieved within the coming two years, telling his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov that he was very pessimistic regarding the potential of negotiations to yield a deal.
During Tuesday’s meeting, Lieberman reportedly told Lavrov, who arrived in Israel on an official visit, that Israel opposed Russia’s recent advances toward Hamas. Lavrov responded that it was impossible to ignore the Islamist organization’s popularity amongst Palestinians, particularly in Gaza.