Barak Ravid
February 6, 2011 - 1:00am

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."

"Negotiating is a process by which every side tries to get the most," he said. "As it continues, both sides understand that they must reach an end-position of action."

The president also said that the sides have already reached an agreement based on the principle of two states for two peoples, on the existence of a demilitarized Palestinian state and on reaching a solution to end the conflict.

"To our Palestinian neighbors, I say: Let's go together toward compromise," Peres said. "Create a democratic Palestinian state, with a scientific and technological infrastructure; let's return to the negotiating table and both sides can reach a reasonable agreement."

"Based on my experience, I can tell my friends in the government and outside, that making peace is like splitting the Red Sea," Peres added. "There are heavy costs, but the alternative is much more dangerous."


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017