In Italy, Peres tries to persuade Abbas to resume talks

President asks Russian counterpart Medvedev not to supply Syria with weapons, pressure Hamas to accept Quartet principles.

President Shimon Peres in Venice 311 (photo credit: Moshe Milner / GPO)
President Shimon Peres in Venice 311
(photo credit: Moshe Milner / GPO)
President Shimon Peres met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Italy on Thursday, during his trip to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the country’s unification and Republic Day.
Peres tried to persuade Abbas to revive the peace process and to immediately resume negotiations with Israel.
Peres also met with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev on Thursday, whom he urged not to sell advanced weapons systems to Syria.
In his discussions with Medvedev, Peres said that Syria is undergoing a period of critical change in which it is difficult to anticipate what will happen next, especially since President Bashar Assad is responsible for the deaths of thousands who demonstrated against his regime.
Against this backdrop of uncertainty, Peres said it was essential that no country, especially Russia, supply Syria with modern, advanced weaponry.
With regard to the Palestinians, Peres asked that Russia join the US in exerting heavy pressure on Hamas to accept and respect the principles laid down by the Quartet.
Israel is ready to return to the negotiating table immediately if the Hamas issue is resolved, Peres told Medvedev, underscoring that the world must understand that Israel cannot tolerate a situation in which Abbas is flanked by a murderous terrorist organization that seeks Israel’s destruction.
Medvedev reiterated Russia’s endorsement of the principles of the Quartet, adding that Russia believes that if Hamas also accepted the principles, there would be a possibility for cooperation between Hamas and Fatah that would yield positive results.
As far as the Israel-Palestinian conflict is concerned, Medvedev said Russia concurs with the views expressed by US President Barack Obama, and was concerned by the Israeli government’s settlement policy.
Peres assured him that a change of attitude and behavior on the part of Hamas, that includes cessation of hostilities against Israel and renunciation of terror, would find positive and creative reciprocity on Israel’s part.
Peres, who has previously invited Medvedev to visit Israel, this time presented him with an official invitation, saying that Israel wanted the opportunity to show its appreciation to Russia and to strengthen strategic ties between the two countries.
At a meeting over the weekend with President of Argentina Cristina Kirschner, Peres, said Israel supports the concept of an independent, democratic Palestinian state, but added that such a state should come about through direct negotiations and not by a way of a resolution at the UN.
Peres tried to dissuade Argentina from its declared intention to vote in favor of a Palestinian state, insisting that Israel wants to put an end to the conflict, but not through a unilateral declaration.
Kirschner replied that in all international forums Argentina and other South American countries, though in favor of declaring the establishment of a Palestinian state, also emphasized that Israel’s fundamental right to security should be included in the context of any future agreement.
“This is part of our clear foreign policy,” she said, adding that it was her personal belief that the creation of a Palestinian state would raise the standard of living and would leading to the establishment of democratic institutions which would in turn reduce the influence of terrorist organizations.
Peres arrived in Venice on Friday to join Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat in opening the Israeli pavilion at the Venice Biennale.
In his address at the opening, Peres voiced his pride in the creative abilities of Israeli artists, crediting them with brilliant breakthroughs and declaring them worthy of global appreciation.
Livnat was equally proud, and said it was a privilege to present the best of Israeli art to the whole world. She was particularly complimentary of artist Sigalit Landau who is representing Israel at the Biennale.