Palestinian-Israeli conflict can be settled in 2 years - Lavrov

After negotiations with both sides, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has made an optimistic statement on the end of Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

A two-year term has actually been stated in the March agreement signed by the international mediating Quartet, in which Russia, the US, EU and UN promised to apply all efforts to resolve the issue by 2012.

“If all parties show goodwill and mutual trust, if all third-party players will actively stimulate the parties to reach agreement, then it is real,” Sergey Lavrov is quoted by RIA-Novosti after his Tuesday talks with the president of the Palestinian National Authority, Mahmoud Abbas.

However, the Israeli Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, does not share Lavrov's optimism.

He thinks "there is no chance of creating an independent Palestinian state by 2012" as quoted by RIA-Novosti earlier on Tuesday.

Boris Morozov, a political analyst from the Institute for Russian and Eastern European Studies at Tel Aviv university agrees, saying there are no signs for the situation to be improving.

“The situation over the past two months only degenerated and there is no indication it will get better,” Morozov said.

Watch full interview with Boris Morozov

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At the same time, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, on a visit to Jerusalem, has clarified Russia’s position on relations with Hamas.

"The economic development of Gaza cannot be achieved without direct regular contact with Hamas. The process is not easy but if we are not dealing with this issue, we will not have any results," Lavrov said on Tuesday to RIA Novosti news agency.

During his visit, Lavrov stressed that Russia will maintain contacts with the Hamas movement "as most Palestinians said ‘yes’ to Hamas during the elections that were recognized as free and democratic by the whole international community."

"In all our negotiations we are trying to convince Hamas to take the route of the Palestinian Liberation Organization and choose a peaceful Arabic initiative, which was also many times supported by the Quartet position," ITAR-TASS quotes the minister at the press-conference in Jerusalem on Tuesday. “Some progress has been made. We will continue working."

Jerusalem is but one stop in Lavrov's Middle East trip. A short visit to Palestine is also scheduled for Tuesday and the final stop will be in Cairo, Egypt, where the Russian Foreign Minister is a frequent guest. In Cairo, Sergey Lavrov intends to spend Tuesday and Wednesday in talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmed Aboul Gheit and the Secretary-General of the Arab League Amr Moussa. Then the minister will head back to Moscow.

Moscow wants a CIA update on the Iran nuclear program

The aim to get more information from the US special services on Iran’s nuclear program follows the recent CIA statement that "Iran has the capabilities to create two nuclear bombs in the near future."

"If the CIA has information that Iran has indeed started enriching uranium to the weapons-grade level, then this information is new and we would like to study this data," Sergey Lavrov is quoted by Interfax news agency during his press-conference in Jerusalem. “If we…assume that Iran can produce enough weapons-grade uranium to make two nuclear bombs, it would have become known a long time ago.”

Earlier in his visit, the Foreign Minister voiced hopes that Iran would stop independent uranium enrichment at 20 per cent and recalled that "Brazil and Turkey have already proposed to partake in the Iranian uranium exchange scheme." A further intergovernmental meeting on this issue was also proposed by Russia, the US and France.

Oxana Likhacheva, RT