Israeli President urges leaders to continue peace talks
Israeli President Shimon Peres on Tuesday reiterated his support for the peace process with the Palestinians, urging both parties to carry on the talks amid reports of a standstill, Xinhua reported.
"I'm pleased to see the government doing all it can to continue negotiations so as the process does not collapse," Peres said at the sixth annual Negev Conference held in the southern town of Sderot.
He discussed the importance of the peace talks and the unique role the United States has in mediating the process.
"I am also pleased that the United States is supporting us in these talks. We are fortunate to have the alliance with the U.S. -- we should not be embarrassed to say thank you to the U.S. for the diplomatic and security support it has and continues to offer us," the president added.
Peres urged both sides to move beyond the disagreements that are clouding the peace talks in an attempt to strike an agreement.
"The Palestinians are not satisfied with us and we are not satisfied with them, but neither of us is satisfied with terror and war," Peres said. "I believe it is our interest to achieve full peace with the Palestinians and not to hesitate," he added.
The president's statement on Tuesday followed his dovish remarks the previous day, in which he praised Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and called him "a true partner" for peace.
Peres' words came just days after Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Abbas is "not a partner for peace" over the weekend.
"Abu Mazen (Abbas) is a man of principles, and he is opposed to terrorism and violence," Peres said on Monday.
Peres' show of support was made several hours before U.S. President Barack Obama met the Palestinian president at the White House to discuss the faltering talks.
Reports show that Abbas said the Palestinians would not agree to extend the talks beyond April unless Israel releases more Palestinian prisoners, including Marwan Baraghouti, a high profile militant and political figure who was convicted of orchestrating several deadly militant attacks against Israelis in the early 2000 's.
Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians resumed in July last year after a three-year freeze, as Israel continued its expansion of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Growing disagreements between both parties have recently brought the peace talks to a standstill. That includes Israel's construction of settlements and its insistence to be recognized as a Jewish state by the Palestinian authority, as well as security issues and the status of Jerusalem.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has been working incessantly in the past several months to introduce a framework agreement. The deal would outline the continuation of the peace talks throughout the year and the core issues to be discussed.