Peres, Abbas, Kerry to discuss peace in Jordan

World Economic Forum expected to present a new peace initiative at conference.

May 26, 2013 06:18
3 minute read.
President Peres and PA President Abbas at the UN Headquarters in NYC, September 27, 2008.

Abbas and Peres at the UN 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Evan Schneider/UN Photo/Handout)

On Sunday President Shimon Peres will speak publicly of Israel’s desire for peace at a panel at the World Economic Forum in Jordan featuring US Secretary of State John Kerry, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and Jordan’s King Abdullah II.

The WEF is also expected to launch a new peace initiative at the panel – titled Breaking the Impasse – in the presence of the four key diplomats.

“I promised you in Istanbul last June that the forum would build on its longstanding commitment to Palestinian-Israeli relations and reconciliation, and work with the forum’s multi-stakeholder community to help renew the conditions and the support for peace,” WEF chairman Klaus Schwab publicly told Abdullah at the forum’s opening session on Saturday, on the edge of the Dead Sea.

This group, Schwab said, has worked for the past year on this initiative.

The panel and the WEF initiative come on the heels of a renewed US drive to rekindle direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, which have been largely frozen since December 2008.

Kerry left Israel on Friday after twice meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and once with Abbas. He urged both leaders to make compromises for peace.

Peres spoke with Netanyahu for two hours on Friday, in advance of his one-day trip to Jordan.

On Saturday, the Jordanian monarch opened the WEF on the shores of the Dead Sea by stating that “We must work together to address the core crisis in our region, the Palestinian- Israeli conflict.

“Extremism everywhere has grown fat off this crisis. It’s time to stop feeding this growth,” Abdullah said.

“The Arab Peace Initiative points the way forward. Now we need to help the parties get on the path,” Abdullah continued.

“Good faith talks must get going. We can and we must keep this issue at the top of the international agenda,” he said.

Abbas, who also addressed the forum, called on the international community to support peace by investing in Palestinian businesses.

“In a few days, the occupation of the West Bank and east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip will complete 46 years,” Abbas said.

“After 20 years of negotiations, the government of Israel continues to maneuver, procrastinate and avoid the prerogatives of peace,” the Palestinian leader said.

Nevertheless, he said, “we continue to say that we want the just and comprehensive peace and we want to achieve the two-state solution, the two states that would live side-by-side in peace.”

The Palestinians have done everything required of them in pursuit of peace, he said.

Abbas added that Kerry’s efforts had given the Palestinians and the whole world hope that the two-state solution would become a reality.

But he added that the Palestinians have a right to statehood, independent of the peace process.

“Ending the occupation of our land, releasing our prisoners and the eviction of settlers and settlement activity and dismantling the apartheid wall is what makes peace and guarantees security for you and for us,” Abbas said.

“The opportunity is still there for making this peace. Come let us make this peace a reality achieved on the ground, so that our current and future generations would reap its benefits,” Abbas said.

But in spite of his strong words in support of peace, Abbas has not publicly backed away from his insistence that he will only hold direct negotiations with Israel if it halts settlement activity and Jewish building in east Jerusalem.

Israel has refused to cede to this request and has instead called for direct talks without preconditions.

Kerry has spent the last two months trying to break the deadlock.

The US secretary of state, Peres, Abbas, and top diplomats and leaders from the Arab world – including representatives from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Morocco, Egypt, Libya and Kuwait – will all be present at the WEF on Sunday.

Peres is expected to hold diplomatic meetings at the conference, but his office did not provide any specific details about those talks.

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