Hours after he publicly called for a resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, President Shimon Peres held a one-on-one meeting with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday night.
The meeting was held in Jordan, where both are attending the World Economic Forum. Ma’ariv reported that Peres told Abbas that only at the negotiating table will the sides be able to bridge their differences, while Abbas replied that peace will come only when an independent Palestinian state is established.
“We shouldn’t lose the opportunity because it will be replaced by a great disappointment,” Peres later told reporters in Jordan. “From my experience, I believe it’s possible to overcome it. It doesn’t require too much time.”
“We must depart from the skepticism that claims that war is inevitable. War is not inevitable. Peace is inevitable,” he added.
According to Ma’ariv, Peres emphasized during the meeting with Abbas the importance of renewing peace negotiations. He said that a new opportunity for talks has been created due to the deep commitment of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to renew talks.
"The permanent status agreement will be based on the principle of two states for two peoples - a Jewish state of Israel, living in peace and security alongside an Arab state of Palestine," Peres said, according to the report.
Peres had claimed that the overwhelming majority of Israeli citizens favor a return to the 1949-1967 borders, but that claim was disputed by Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett, who said Sunday night that Peres was misrepresenting Israeli public opinion.
"I respect the president and hold him in esteem,” Bennett said, “but contrary to what he said, most of the Israeli public strenuously opposes a retreat to [pre-]1967 lines and understands that it will import Hamas terror to the cities of the Sharon region and central Israel.”
Bennett added, "The Israeli public, which has experienced the results of the Oslo Accords in the form of thousands of murdered victims, knows with its healthy senses that the road to peace and security passes through strength, not weakness and retreats.”
The office of president in Israel is devoid of political powers. Peres has a different view of his role, however, and regularly intervenes in diplomacy.