Peres: Time is ripe to end conflict

In Times opinion piece, president says Obama's journey to region is a unique opportunity.

obama peres 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
obama peres 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
"The time is ripe to end the Israeli-Arab conflict" and US President Barack Obama's journey to the region could be a unique opportunity, President Shimon Peres wrote in an opinion piece published in the London Times Thursday. In the article, he suggested a twin-track approach to achieve peace in the Middle East - one that is based on a regional solution. "Support from the entire Arab world will provide legitimacy for the Palestinian Authority as it approaches the difficult task of making and then implementing historic compromises," Peres wrote. "At the same time it may reassure Israel that the painful concessions it will make will be rewarded by a broader, more enduring comprehensive peace across the region." Peres said it was important to learn from past mistakes. "Looking back, I confess that well-formulated peace plans are not enough on their own. Something else is often required," he wrote. Citing former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat's 1977 trip to Jerusalem, as well as former Jordanian king Hussein's 1997 trip to Israel to console grieving families of girls killed by a Jordanian soldier, Peres noted that such grand gestures were far more effective in building trust and bridging gaps than negotiations and "petty bargaining." "A regional peace may have the same dramatic effect," he wrote. "However erudite and astute the negotiators, they cannot match the impact of such a gesture." Due to the increasing threat posed by Iran to Arab nations, "Israel is increasingly viewed as a part of the new path for a regional solution," he stated. Peres stressed that political talks had to be supported by economic as well as environmental incentives. Economic peace, he said, was not a substitute for political peace, "but rather a catalyst for progress." He went on to say that while the Arab peace initiative was a positive step, Israel should not be expected to agree to all of its clauses as it did not take part in its formulation. Meanwhile, he acknowledged that Israel too could not impose its own wording on other parties, and that common ground must be sought. "There is no greater strength than the power of an idea that has come to fruition," Peres wrote. "The passengers are ready. The ship is waiting. It is time for the navigators to decisively take the helm."