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
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
Peres spoke with
Netanyahu for two hours on Friday, in advance of his one-day trip to
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.
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
“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,”
“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.”
Palestinians have done everything required of them in pursuit of peace, he
Abbas added that Kerry’s efforts had given the Palestinians and the
whole world hope that the two-state solution would become a reality.
he added that the Palestinians have a right to statehood, independent of the
“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.
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
Kerry has spent the last two months trying to break the
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.