Peres offers condolences over London attack

Peres tells British foreign secretary there are positive developments in efforts to restart peace talks with Palestinians.

President Peres meets Hague 370 (photo credit: Mark Neyman/GPO)
President Peres meets Hague 370
(photo credit: Mark Neyman/GPO)
For the second time in two days, President Shimon Peres on Friday offered condolences to Britain for the terrorist attack in Woolwich, east London, in which 25-ear-old drummer Lee Rigby of Greater Manchester was brutally hacked to death by terrorists.
On Thursday, Peres wrote a letter to Queen Elizabeth II stating that he was deeply saddened and shocked by the act of horrific brutality.
He offered wrote in his own name and in the name of the people of Israel to the family of the victim and the people of Britain.
“Terrorism is a global threat and one the world must face together,” Peres wrote, adding that he knows that the people of Britain will stand strong in the face of this threat and assuring the queen that the State of Israel stands side-by-side with them.
On Friday morning, in the course of a meeting with visiting British Foreign Secretary William Hague, Peres again conveyed condolences, emphasizing that Israel knows what terror means “and our hearts are with you.”
Before getting down to the main focus of their discussion, which was the resumption of the Middle East peace process, Peres and Hague traded compliments about each other’s intellect, with Peres telling Hague that he admired his intellectual depth and his clear position, and Hague responding that there are few more committed intellectuals in the world than Peres.
The president commended Hague for his clear position on Iran and Syria, and also voiced pleasure at the scientific cooperation and investment between the two countries.
“Your visit is timely and important,” he told Hague, who is on a regional visit to Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan. Peres is scheduled to travel to Jordan on Sunday.
Hague said that there was “a tremendous amount of bilateral work” going on in different fields, and declared that he was pleased by the extent of academic and scientific cooperation, especially in the field of regenerative medicine.
There are plans to do more in nanotechnology, he disclosed.
When the conversation turned to prospects for peace, Hague told Peres that before the last British elections, he had told his party that 50 percent of foreign policy would be dealing with the Middle East, but now with Iran’s nuclear program and the tragic situation in Syria, 70 percent of British foreign policy deals with the Middle East.
Conceding that there were still some obstacles to overcome in reaching an accord with the Palestinians, Peres said: “In spite of the difficulties, the time is ripe for peace.”
He was optimistic that US Secretary of State John Kerry’s initiative can lead to a breakthrough. Contrary to what appears in media headlines, Peres said that he could see positive developments on the Israeli side, the Palestinian side and the Arab side. He noted that the Arab initiative is a departure from the strategy of war to the strategy of peace’ which he termed an important thing. He could see that things are quietly moving, he said.
Hague who also favors the Kerry initiative, said that Britain’s hope was that support for Kerry and his work would help to make some decisive moves forward for permanent peace.
While Israel and Britain are in agreement on a number of regional issues, there are also areas of disagreement.
In an interview broadcast Friday on Sky News, Hague warned that the window of opportunity for Israel and the Palestinians to agree to form a two-state solution was closing fast. He stated that Britain strongly disagrees with settlements on occupied land, saying that they were “a severe threat” to a two state solution.