'Still possible to make peace with Palestinians'

President Peres meets Greek Patriarch who praises his stance against attacks on holy places.

President Shimon Peres meets Christian clerics 311 (photo credit: Mark Neiman/GPO)
President Shimon Peres meets Christian clerics 311
(photo credit: Mark Neiman/GPO)
President Shimon Peres told top Christian clerics in Israel he still believes it is possible to achieve peace with the Palestinians, saying that negotiations should restart with the new year.
"I don't accept all the doubts," the president told Christian clerics and leaders at a meeting Thursday. "It is possible to find solutions and to begin negotiations because the alternative to not finding a solution is war and the loss of life."
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Peres told the clerics he is proud of relations between the Christian church and the state of Israel. "It is our responsibility and obligation that every religion has freedom of worship in Israel and to ensure that every religious person can pray to his God, have access to holy places and enjoy equal rights," he said.
Also speaking at the ceremony, Interior Minister Eli Yishai called the new year "a time for spiritual leadership to call for peace and unity." Spiritual leaders, he added, "have the power to pass along that message and the meaning of peace and coexistence in the world."
Greek Patriarch Theophilus III used the opportunity to address so-called "price tag" attacks in recent months, denouncing any attack on places of worship. He praised Peres "for standing up against the desecration of holy places that took place recently and whose purpose is to harm freedom of worship and religion."
"Your strong condemnation against all types of attacks on holy places, among them Jewish, Christian or Muslim should serve as an example of leadership to all of us," he added.