The final borders of Israel will be settled within four years, Ehud Olmert, the country's acting prime minister, said yesterday.
Mr Olmert, who is expected to lead the centrist Kadima party to a convincing victory in general elections later this month, issued the 2010 deadline in twin interviews with Israeli newspapers.
"In four years' time, Israel will be separated from a decisive majority of the Palestinian population, within new borders," he said.
Mr Olmert added that the "security barrier" Israel is building through parts of the occupied West Bank - which has been criticised as a unilateral land grab - would mark Israel's future frontier.
"The course of the fence - which until now has been a security fence - will be in line with the new course of the permanent border," he said.
Mr Olmert, who is standing in for the premier Ariel Sharon, who is in a coma, also promised to forge ahead with a construction project to link the large settlement of Ma'ale Adumim to Jerusalem.
The controversial building scheme would effectively seal off eastern Jerusalem, which Palestinians want as the capital of a future state, from the West Bank.
Work is on hold there after Israel came under pressure from the US not to proceed with a development that could prejudice the two-state solution enshrined in Washington's Middle East "roadmap for peace". But Mr Olmert said the work would go ahead, reports Telegraph.
The United States does not recognize the entry of Ukrainian territories into Russia. Such a development will seriously complicate prospects for a diplomatic settlement