Peres expected to declare that most Israelis support return to 1967 borders
President Shimon Peres said Sunday that it was possible for Israelis and Palestinians to overcome differences and skepticism over peacemaking.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Jordan, Peres said it was time to restart serious negotiations and conclude a peace treaty that had long eluded the two sides in the conflict.
“We shouldn’t lose the opportunity because it will be replaced by great disappointment,” he said.
“From my experience, I believe it’s possible to overcome it. It doesn’t require too much time.
“Our aim is to not waste time and resume negotiations as soon as possible so we can complete the full peace process with the Palestinians on the basis of two states for two peoples living side by side as neighbors, with full economic cooperation, for the sake of future generations.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who was expected in Jordan later in the day, said Palestinians and Israelis must make hard decisions to move toward direct negotiations.
Earlier in the day, it was reported in the Israeli media that Peres, who was scheduled to address the forum on Sunday evening, was planning to say that most of the Israeli public supports a return to 1967 borders, with fair, mutually agreeable border alterations.
Peres was reportedly set to directly address Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who will be attending the forum, and to tell him that he wants to be partners for peace and that there are not many gaps between the Israeli and the Palestinian standpoints, and that whatever gaps there are, they are surmountable. Peres was also expected to say that Israel wants peace and that there is overwhelming support among Israelis for a diplomatic resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Before Peres even made the speech, his expected remarks drew angry responses from Israeli officials. 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.”
Ahead of the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday, Tourism Minister Uzi Landau (Yisrael Beytenu) warned against a return to “Auschwitz borders” — invoking a 1969 remark made by then Foreign Minster Abba Eban.
“I don’t want to address political proposals made by this or that public figure,” Landau said.
“The legendary Foreign Minister Abba Eban once said that 1967 borders are Auschwitz borders. What country would want to define borders that make it impossible to defend itself?
“If the Palestinian Authority, with whom we have already signed agreements, fell apart, who wants to sign an agreement with a state whose ability to sustain itself is in doubt? Let us not forget what we got when we withdrew …read more