Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas is one of the only Arab leaders with whom Israel can reach an agreement, President Shimon Peres said Sunday, calling for renewed peace talks and making veiled critiques of Israel’s leaders.

“You can reach an agreement with Abbas…one of the only leaders in the Arab world to publicly and boldly say that he supports peace and a demilitarized state, and opposes terrorism,” Peres said at a meeting of Israeli ambassadors ahead of an annual Foreign Ministry conference.

The dovish elder statesman said that he has known Abbas for 30 years and “no one” could change his mind about the Palestinian leader, while admitting that the Palestinian leader has been highly critical of Israel.

“We don’t need to hug and praise him,” he said.

High level talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been frozen since a stillborn attempt in 2010 to reach an agreement.

Israel has called for the Palestinians to come to the table with no preconditions, while Ramallah maintains that settlement construction must stop before they will negotiate.

Peres said that ”there is no alternative” to a two-state solution and called on the ruling Likud party to remove their opposition to such a solution from the party platform. He added there was a clear majority that was for a Palestinian state existing side by side with a Jewish one.

“If someone rejects the idea of a two-state solution, he should say what he has in its place,” Peres said. “Even If you do not have another option… reality will bring the alternative. I tell you categorically that the idea of a binational state endangers the Jewish, Zionist and democratic nature of Israel.”

Peres rejected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s oft-repeated demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state as a precondition for talks. “I do not need to define the nature of a Palestinian state,” he said. “And they do not need to define our character. It is undeniable.”

“The role of diplomacy is to make friends, not to deceive enemies,” Peres told the crowd of assembled ambassadors, alluding to the conduct of former Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, who was indicted on fraud and breach of trust charges Sunday. “In diplomacy, it’s always better to be a lion in the skin of a sheep, than a sheep with a lion’s roar that scares the whole world.”

Source: Times Of Israel


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