Peres Appeals for Peace at World Economic Forum, Expected to Tout Pre-67 Borders
by Zach Pontz
Israeli President Shimon Peres said Sunday Israelis and the Palestinian Authority could “overcome skepticism and doubts” to find a lasting peace.
Speaking to reporters at the World Economic Forum in Jordan, Peres said it was time for Israel “to return to negotiations and complete the peace process with the Palestinians based on two states for two peoples – an Israeli state and a Palestinian state living as good neighbors and cooperating economically for the good of future generations.”
“I am aware of the missing links residing between the two ends. From my experience I believe it is possible to overcome them, it doesn’t require too much time. It is the real interest of all parties concerned,” Peres said.
Later in the day President Peres will deliver a speech at the closing plenary of the World Economic Forum which is entitled “Breaking the Impasse.” Peres is expected to address the major issues facing the Middle East today including the importance of returning to negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Earlier in the day, it was reported in the Israeli media that Peres was planning to say that most of the Israeli public supports an Israeli withdrawal to 1967 borders, with fair, mutually agreeable border alterations.
The reports have already drawn mixed reactions from several officials in the Israel government.
Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz voiced harsh criticism Sunday, saying that “I wasn’t aware that Peres purports to be the government’s spokesman. I believe that the government already has its own spokespeople,” Steinitz said.
“The president is very highly respected in Israel, but diplomatic decisions should be left up to the government and I think that every remark, certainly on the eve of resumption of this type of negotiation, does not contribute to Israel’s position,” Steinitz continued.
Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz, however, welcomed the reports.
“Obviously any diplomatic agreement would have to be based on 1967 borders and land swaps,” Peretz said.
“I certainly think that the moment of truth is upon us, and that [U.S. Secretary of State John] Kerry’s presence is extremely important,” he added.
“I truly hope that the president of Israel, who is in Jordan in coordination with the prime minister, will indeed make the declarations that will jumpstart the peace process. Everything that is happening around us makes it imperative for us to invest as much as possible into the process with the Palestinians.”