President Shimon Peres on Saturday night issued a statement praising the courage of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for calling on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to return to the negotiating table and to discuss the two-state solution based on pre-1967 borders.

Abbas has proved both in word and deed that Israel does have a genuine negotiating partner on the Palestinian side, said Peres.

"Abu Mazen [Abbas] has condemned terror and has pledged that under his leadership there will not be a third intifada. He understands very well that the solution to the Palestinian refugee problem cannot be within Israeli territory, so as not to change the demographic character of Israel. But he has put out a hand to Israel to renew the peace process."

Peres, who is in frequent contact with Abbas, has persistently stated that Abbas is a responsible and sincere partner for peace, saying he has reached this conclusion on the basis of their personal conversations.

What Abbas said is a matter of great significance declared Peres, adding that the Palestinian leaders words should be taken with the utmost seriousness. The desire for peace and a two state solution also has a broad consensus in Israel, Peres stated.

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