Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, stated on Thursday that he does not believe that a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is possible before the end of this year. His statements contradict several optimistic views by Israeli and Palestinian officials.

Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported that Barak said that he hopes that these talks will progress to a deal, but added that he does not believe there will be any outcome this year.

Both the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, and the US President, George W. Bush, in addition to the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, repeatedly stated that they believe that a peace deal is possible before the end of this year.

Meanwhile, Barak said that Israel should not be blamed if there was no deal before the end of this year, and added that he believes that there should be projects to advance the Palestinian economy and to advance the rebuilding of the Palestinian law enforcement facilities and infrastructure institutions.  

He added that Israel repeatedly said to the United States that enforcing the law in the Palestinian territories starts with creating a strong police force, capable law courts and intelligence.

He claimed that the Palestinians are not acting in order to advance their capabilities, which makes Israel unwilling to consider transferring more responsibilities to them.