"Middle East 2020: Is a Comprehensive Settlement Possible?" conference© RIA Novosti. Sergey Pyatakov
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The Middle East peace process is unlikely to produce any tangible results in the next decade or two, a Russian expert for Arab studies at the Institute of Strategic Studies and Analysis said on Tuesday.
Sergei Demidenko told RIA Novosti that the Arab-Israeli conflict was highly unlikely to be settled "either by 2020 or by 2030," as a solution has still to be found on three vital issues: the status of Jerusalem, refugee problem and Israeli settlement construction.
"I think the key issue on which no consensus is likely to be reached within the following decade is the status of Jerusalem," the Russian expert said.
"This problem is closely linked to domestic policies and public opinion both in the Palestinian National Authority and Israel," he went on. "And any government that will come into power either in the Palestinian National Authority or in Israel would never agree to cede Jerusalem or to divide it even under threat of being ousted."
The expert said that the "Middle East 2020: Is a Comprehensive Settlement Possible?" conference currently underway in the Jordanian city of Suweima might benefit the Middle East peace process as "any attempts to reach any kind of consensus are very, very positive."
He said the current political situation in both states, namely the rule of conservative politicians in Israel and the absence of central authority in the PNA, does not allow the ability to bring the sides to the negotiation table.
"The process has come to a complete deadlock," Demidenko said. "Any actions that might help overcome the situation are certainly of great importance."
He said the conference in Suweima might also help in preparing a Middle East conference in Moscow.
Russia, which is involved in the Middle East peace process as a member of the Quartet of mediators, along with the United States, the United Nations, and the European Union, has been seeking to host international Middle East peace talks in Moscow for more than a year.
It was due to be held in Moscow by the end of 2009, but Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in October that the date for the Moscow conference would be announced as soon as Israel resumes direct talks with the Palestinians.
"The idea of holding the Moscow conference was welcomed by the U.S. and Israel. The only problem is that Russia wants to invite Hamas, and Israel refuses to take part in the conference under such terms," the expert said.
MOSCOW, December 22 (RIA Novosti)
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