Ma'an News Agency
April 29, 2011 - 12:00am

President Mahmoud Abbas met Thursday with the leadership of the Israel Peace Initiative at his government headquarters in Ramallah, where he heard their presentation of a regional peace initiative.

The group met a day after officials in Cairo announced a unity "understanding" between rival parties Fatah and Hamas, which will see the creation of a technocratic government to oversee the transition to the first government elections since 2006.

Former minister Moshe Shahal said "we have a problem in Israeli society; they're concerned and afraid of the deal. To be honest, we hesitated in coming after hearing reports on reconciliation.

"It's true our hair turned white searching for peace," Shahal said. "But we will continue searching. We went to President Abbas in order to build bridges and trust and nothing else."

The plan is largely based on the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, stating that under the scheme Israel accepts it as a framework for regional peace negotiations and presents its own as an integrated response.

The initiative espouses a demilitarized Palestinian state within agreed-upon borders, using international forces to police borders and maintain security. Borders would be based on pre-1967 armistice lines.

A number of Israeli journalists attended the event.

One person in the crowd caught the attention of several present: the daughter of Rabbi Obadia Yousef, who has called Palestinians animals who should be swept from the earth.

After someone whispered to Abbas that she was among the group, the president turned to her and said, "Tell your father that we are sincere about making peace."


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