Peres urges PA to return to talks

Lieberman: Israel ready for peace, united Jerusalem not negotiable.

April 21, 2010 06:41
2 minute read.
President Shimon Peres and Foreign Minister Avigdo

peres lieberman diplomats 311. (photo credit: Avi Yair Engel)

“Disagreements cannot be resolved by war. We cannot achieve more on the battlefield than around the negotiating table,” President Shimon Peres said at the annual Independence Day reception that he hosted for heads of diplomatic missions, military attachés, honorary consuls and representatives of religious institutions on Tuesday.

Peres called on the Palestinians to negotiate, reiterating that Israel is in favor of a two-state solution, and wants to see the Palestinians living in peace, respect and prosperity.

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“Our main desire is peace in the Middle East with all our neighbors. It brings us no joy to see other people suffering,” he said. “The better our neighbors have it, the better peace we will have [it]. To postpone peace is unnecessary.”

Peres also pointed to increasing incidents of terrorism, and declared that terror is threatening the possibility to govern the world peacefully.

Citing Iran’s perpetual call for death to the US and death to Israel, the president said that many people who are against Israel “will not have a happier world without the Jewish people and the State of Israel.

“Whoever tries to destroy us is the beginning of a threat to the rest of the world,” he said.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman endorsed the call for the Palestinians to resume negotiations, but was adamant that nothing should be forced on either side.

“We must establish a new reality in the region based on security for Israel and economic prosperity for the Palestinians,” he said.

This could not be done without establishing conditions of mutual trust, he said. “Any attempt to force a solution without establishing mutual trust will only deepen the conflict.”

Over the past year, the foreign minister continued, the government has made significant gestures and confidence-building measures toward the Palestinians.

As for the dispute over Jerusalem, Lieberman echoed the words of then-prime minister Menachem Begin at the 32nd Independence Day celebrations in 1980, when he said: “Citizens of Israel, let us set Jerusalem above our highest joy.”

Begin made it clear at the time that any area in the north, the south, the east or the west of Jerusalem that was under Israeli sovereignty would remain part of Israel’s capital.

“It cannot be divided directly or indirectly,” he said. “It is our eternal city.”

Lieberman emphasized that Begin had made this declaration while engaged in talks with Egypt. “It did not stand in the way of our peace negotiations with Egypt,” he said, implying that it should not stand in the way of peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

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