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Peres, Abbas call for peace at World Economic Forum

JTA

May 27, 2013 | 12:30 pm

Israeli President Shimon Peres (left) shakes hands with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (second from right) looks on, during the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa at the King Hussein Convention Centre, at the Dead Sea on May 26. Photo by REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed

Israeli President Shimon Peres (left) shakes hands with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (second from right) looks on, during the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa at the King Hussein Convention Centre, at the Dead Sea on May 26. Photo by REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed

Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called for peace at the World Economic Forum in Jordan.

Peres in his address Sunday evening said, “I am here to express the hope and desire of the Israeli people to bring an end to the conflict and a beginning to a peaceful new age. I hope that this forum will voice a timely call against skepticism. I pray that it will allow for tomorrow’s horizon to shine bright — a horizon that will illuminate the fruits of freedom, science and progress.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, speaking earlier in the day, said his people want peace, and that it only be achieved with the creation of an independent Palestinian state. He said young Palestinians had lost hope for a two-state solution.

“We want to achieve the two-state solution. Two states that will live side by side in peace,” he said, adding, “The opportunity is still there for making this peace. Come, let this make this peace a reality achieved on the ground, so that our current and future generations would reap its benefits.”

Abbas said the P.A. would not agree to a resolution that calls for temporary borders, saying it would prolong the conflict. He thanked U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for his efforts to restart the peace process.

In his speech to the forum, Kerry called on Israel and the Palestinians to continue the peace process through to the end, asking: “Do we want to live with a permanent intifada?”

Kerry also announced the possible formation of a $4 billion private economic plan to help expand the Palestinian economy.

Peres and King Abdullah II of Jordan in a meeting earlier in the day on the forum sidelines discussed ways to revive peace negotiations in the region and how to overcome obstacles facing the peace process. They agreed that a two-state solution is the only viable solution to end the conflict.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat called on Peres to convince Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make peace with the Palestinians based on the pre-1967 borders.

Ahead of Sunday’s regular Cabinet meeting, Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz chided Peres for acting like the “government spokesman.”

“I think the government has its own spokespeople,” Steinitz said, according to The Jerusalem Post. “The position of president of Israel is respected, but the government makes policy decisions, and I think that every declaration of this sort, certainly on the eve of negotiations, does not help Israel’s stance.”

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