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(photo credit: GPO)
President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak met with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos On Sunday.
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Barak praised the two, saying that "they both take a lot of time working towards a real European contribution to peace between Israel and the Palestinians. I know that they are both friends of Israel, and they are respected by the Palestinians and throughout the Arab world . Therefore, they can really help."
However, Barak added, "there will be disagreements with the minsters when we sit around a table in a closed room," specifically about the building moratorium.
President Shimon met with Kouchner and Moratinos at Beit HaNassi.
Kouchner told Peres, "We're optimistic. It takes time, it always takes time in this region, but this is a delicate moment where we can make an effort and make progress in direct talks and in peace."
Moritanos added: "We are optimistic in light of what happened in the last month, despite the difficulties and concerns of the two sides, but both sides sent a clear and strong message to the international community that they want to keep up the momentum, keep an open door to direct talks, and they are ready to move on to significant matters."
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"We can not give up on peace," Peres said. "It is clear to all sides that the alternative is worse and dangerous."
Kouchner and Moratinos also visited the parents of captive soldier Gilad Schalit in their Jerusalem protest tent on Sunday.
Noam Schalit asked the foreign ministers to use their connections to help his son, and demanded that the European Union pressure the Arab world.
Kouchner told Schalit that there is still hope, and France is doing what it can to bring Gilad home. Moritanos also promised to make an effort.
However, Schalit said he does not think the foreign ministers are doing enough.
Earlier on Sunday, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said that he could not rule out the possibility of the UN Security Council creating a Palestinian state, AFP cited from an interview by Palestinian paper al-Ayyam.
Kouchner reportedly told al-Ayyam that France preferred a two-state solution negotiated between the Palestinian Authority and Israel but that a UN-brokered resolution to the decades-long conflict remained a possibility.
"The international community cannot be satisfied with a prolonged deadlock. I therefore believe that one cannot rule out in principle the Security Council option," he was cited by AFP as saying.
Kouchner as called for the European Union, the Palestinian Authority's largest donor, to play a more active role in the peace talks.
PA negotiator Saeb Erekat on Sunday said that the Palestinian side was deciding whether or not to seek international recognition of the Palestinian territories if a Palestinian state within 1967 boundaries was not recognized by Israel as a result of the talks, in an al-Arabiya interview cited by Israel Radio.
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