Peres: Israeli-Palestinian peace urgent in light of Egypt crisis

By Barak Ravid, Haaretz

via Haaretz (click for original)

President tells 11th annual Herzliya conference that the sluggish pace of the peace process means that the conflict is being 'exploited to the detriment of all sides'.

President Shimon Peres urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday to move quickly toward a solution in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process in light of the crisis that has wracked Egypt over the last two weeks.

"The dramatic events of the recent period make it necessary for us to take the Israeli-Palestinian conflict off the regional agenda," Peres said in his remarks to the 11th annual Israeli security conference, which opened Sunday in Herzliya. "We must do this as soon as possible because the conflict is being exploited to the detriment of all sides."

The president added that Israel's "deterrence must be faith as well as an intention for peace with our neighbors."

"The peace process is now crucial for our neighbors, and not just us," added Peres. "A true compromise, as painful as it may be, is preferable to the dangers that would be created in its absence."

Peres stressed that the peace process had taken a sluggish pace due to mutual suspicions on the parts of both Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

The Palestinians had in the past been suspicious that a right-wing Israeli government would refuse to recognize a two-state solution, said the president, adding that such a concern had proven unwarranted.

In the same respect, he added, Israel had always suspected that the Palestinians would remain stubborn in their demand that 5 million refugees be given a right of return to Israeli territory – another concern, he said, that proved unwarranted.

"Negotiations begin with wide and declared differences," said Peres. "Those must be overcome not with hammers or drums, but with creativity and patience, and no fanfare."

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