Peres: Abbas is Israel's partner for peace

Israel's President touts peace at World Economic Forum, says Israel must not lose the opportunity to make peace with the Palestinians; Abbas warns two-state solution is at risk.

Peres Abbas and Kerry at WEC 370 (photo credit: World Economic Forum / Benedikt von Loebell)
Peres Abbas and Kerry at WEC 370
(photo credit: World Economic Forum / Benedikt von Loebell)
President Shimon Peres Sunday called on Israelis and Palestinians to resume peace negotiations as soon as possible under the framework of an agreed upon common ground of a two-state solution.
Peres, speaking at the culmination of the World Economic Forum held at the King Hussein Convention Center on the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea, said now is time for both sides to overcome the difficulties and dangers obstructing renewed strides for peace.
"What holds back the renewal of the peace negotiation are some gaps in the bridge between the beginning and the conclusion. Knowing very well the nature of the missing link, I am convinced that this gap can be bridged," Peres said calling on leaders of both sides to advance peace initiatives.
Peres called Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas a partner of Israel's and praised recent US efforts to contribute to completing the peace process and the the Arab Peace Initiative as a strategic opportunity for approaching peace.
"We must depart from the skepticism that claims that war is inevitable. War is not inevitable. Peace is inevitable." he said.
"Despite the many hurdles on the way to peace, we must never lose sight of the positive developments in our region," Peres said citing peace agreements that have been fostered between Egypt and Israel and Jordan and Israel.
President Shimon Peres, US Secretary of State John Kerry and PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat  speak to reporters at the WEC in Jordan, May 26, 2013.
President Shimon Peres arriving at the World Economic Forum, May 26, 2013.
President Shimon Peres addresses reporters at the World Economic Forum in Jordan, May 26, 2013.
Mahmoud Abbas and Nabil Elaraby at the World Economic Forum, May 25, 2013.
Arab League Secretary General Nabil Elaraby speaks at the World Economic Forum, May 25, 2013.
Senators John McCain and Robert Menendez at the World Economic Forum, May 25, 2013.
Mahmoud Abbas addresses the World Economic Forum, May 25, 2013.
Nabil Elaraby, John McCain and Amr Moussa at the WEC, May 25, 2013.
Just peace must include the right of return to Palestinian refugees and the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said.
The PA president also called on Israelis to read the Arab Peace Initiative, withdraw to the pre-1967 lines, and allow Jerusalem to be the capital of both states.
In his speech, Abbas also stressed the Palestinians will not agree to temporary borders.
He said the Palestinian people are eager for peace, and rejected claims Palestinian textbooks instigate against Israel.
He said the two-state solution is at risk, accusing the new generation of Israelis of not believing in it.
While the President expressed Israel's willingness to extend its hand in peace to all nations in the Middle East, he warned against international toleration of the Iranian regime's "brutal threatening weapons as a norm for the rest of the world," adding that the "only enemies are the enemies to peace."
He was expected to say there is clear acceptance in Israel for a two-state solution based on the 1967 lines, with agreed to and equal border revisions, according to Hebrew daily Ma’ariv.
As he arrived in Jordan earlier Sunday, Peres urged people not to be cynical about the process. The beginning point, the Palestinian Authority, is already known, as is the end point, which is a two-state solution, Peres said.
“I am aware of the missing links residing between those two ends. From my experience I believe it is possible to overcome, it doesn't require too much time,” Peres said.
“It is urgent, we shouldn't lose the opportunity because it will be replaced by a great disappointment,” Peres said. “We have overcome skepticism and doubts. I believe it is a real possibility,” he added.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, however, was less optimistic. For direct Israeli Palestinian negotiations to resume, “what is needed is for the Israeli prime minister to announce publicly his acceptance of two states on 1967, he needs to say it,” said Erekat.
He also told a reporter that he did not believe the resumption of direct talks were possible without a settlement freeze.
Erekat added that Netanyahu, and not Peres, need to talks about a two-state solution based on the 1967 lines.
“We all agree with President Shimon Peres, But I think Mr. Peres should focus on one thing, on convincing his Prime Minister Netanyahu to accept a two state solution on 1967,” Erekat said.
Still, he did not dismiss Kerry’s efforts to break the deadlock between Israel and the Palestinians, but said that more time was needed to see if Kerry’s work would bear fruit.