Welcoming President Shimon Peres to his summer palace on Thursday, Pope
XVI said he was greatly encouraged by the start of direct negotiations
Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
The talks were also welcomed by
European leaders and by the UN secretary-general, but Iran predicted
fail and urged its people to rally in support of the Palestinians on
final Friday of Ramadan Peres is in Italy to attend a conference that
place annually in Como, gathering together world leaders in politics,
and national security.
Peres tells Schalit's parents important not to lose hope
Pope moves speech for Jewish MPs
The pontiff told Peres he would pray that the
talks would lead to a successful outcome. A peace agreement between Israel and
the Palestinians would be a historic breakthrough, he said. Everything possible
must be done to advance the negotiations and to restore the values that are the
foundations for peace, he said.
In addition to political support, the
pope continued, it was important for the negotiators to know that they
spiritual support. He called on people of all faiths to mobilize for the
peace in the Middle East.
Peres and the pope discussed Iran’s
build a nuclear bomb, the enhancement of relations between Israel and
Vatican and the fact that abducted soldier Gilad Schalit has been
the most basic of human rights.
The president asked for the
in the effort to secure the freedom of Schalit.
Peres met with
soldier’s parents, Aviva and Noam Schalit, on Wednesday evening in
he was preparing to leave for Rome.
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The pope pledged to do
in his power to bring about Schalit’s release.
Also on Thursday,
Foreign Secretary William Hague called on Israeli and Palestinian
work together in the pursuit of peace.
Speaking at a joint press
conference with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle at the Foreign
in London, Hague emphasized the “historic importance” of the move to
“We welcome the direct talks between Israel and the
Palestinians beginning today.
We look to Prime Minister Netanyahu
President Abbas to show the perseverance, commitment and courage needed
achieve a sovereign, viable and contiguous Palestinian state living in
security alongside a safe and secure Israel and their other neighbors in
region,” Hague said.
Speaking about his meeting with Westerwelle,
said, “We stand ready with our European partners to do all that we can
buttress those talks and to work with countries in the region to that
The UK’s foreign secretary said the parties would need to
“commitment and courage to achieve the lasting peace that both sides
and we support them fully in that effort.”
Westerwelle said the
the US capital represented a real chance for a better future in the
“We think this chance, the first direct talks after more
months, offer us an opportunity to take crucial steps towards a
and just two-state solution,” he said. “We therefore call on all parties
hard to create conditions which make the success of these peace talks
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also expressed
the first direct talks in nearly two years, while acknowledging the
could prove “very difficult.”
He called on both sides to show
flexibility and pragmatism.
“I am very encouraged and happy by
direct talks for the Middle East peace process,” Ban told reporters
meeting with Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger.
commended US President Barack Obama for his efforts. He also called on
in the region and the international community to join forces in
Mideast peace process.”
Ban said it was important that Abbas be
full support” and that his leadership be recognized by the international
In Teheran on Wednesday, the Iranian army rejected the
Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, saying they are bound to fail,
according to a
Press TV report. And President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told Al- Alam TV that
talks would fail, nothing new was on offer, and the US was biased toward
A statement released by the army said the talks were
“misleading,” and called for the “return of all Palestinians to their
the establishment of an independent government and the expulsion of the
The Iranian armed forces headquarters called on
support Palestinians by rallying on the last Friday of Ramadan
Press TV reported on Thursday. The statement reportedly said it was a
test” for Muslims worldwide to demonstrate support for the
In Iran and some other Muslim countries, the day is
as International Quds Day.AP and Jerusalem Post staff
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