Israel's Peres welcomes "courageous" words from Abbas

JERUSALEM Sun Nov 4, 2012 9:23am IST

Israel's President Shimon Peres during a ceremony in Jerusalem October 17, 2012. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun/Files

Israel's President Shimon Peres during a ceremony in Jerusalem October 17, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Ronen Zvulun/Files

Related Topics

Border Security Force (BSF) soldiers ride their camels as they rehearse for the "Beating the Retreat" ceremony in New Delhi January 27, 2015. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

"Beating The Retreat" Rehearsals

Rehearsals are on for "Beating the Retreat" ceremony which symbolises retreat after a day on the battlefield, and marks the official end of the Republic Day celebrations.  Slideshow 

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli President Shimon Peres hailed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as a courageous partner for peace on Saturday after the Palestinian leader made clear his support for a two-state solution to the decades old conflict with Israel.

In an interview with Israeli television broadcast this week, the Western-backed Abbas also hinted that Palestinians who, prior to the 1948 establishment of the Jewish state lived on lands that are now in Israel, do not have a right to return there, comments that sparked an outcry from his Islamist rivals.

"(Abbas's) courageous words prove that Israel has a real partner for peace," Peres said in a statement. "These are significant words ... We must all treat them with the utmost respect."

Peres, a Nobel peace prize laureate, holds a post that is largely ceremonial and he has little influence on the policies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing government. As prime minister more than a decade ago, Peres headed a left-wing government that actively pursued peace with the Palestinians.

Netanyahu has repeatedly portrayed Abbas as a peace partner, urging him to return to negotiations, despite Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's description of the Palestinian president as an obstacle to peace.

There have been no direct peace talks since 2010, when the Palestinians refused to resume negotiations unless Israel suspended settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which they say is killing off all chances of them ever creating a coherent state.

Abbas has defied Israel and the United States by planning to ask the U.N. General Assembly to upgrade the Palestinians to a non-member state. Facing possible punitive Israeli and U.S. sanctions, Abbas has promised an immediate return to peace talks after the U.N. vote, which the Palestinians are likely to win.

The Islamist group Hamas, which wrested control of the Gaza Strip from Abbas in 2007, condemned the comments and thousands of its members rallied in protest and burned posters of Abbas.

"No one, regardless of who he may be ... has the right to cede a single tract of the land of Palestine or to cede the right of return," Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh told reporters.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a faction historically allied with Abbas, even called on the president to be questioned by his own Palestine Liberation Organisation.

Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rdainah said issues like the right of return of Palestinian refugees and the borders of a future state must be resolved in negotiations with Israel. He accused rival groups, without singling any of them out, of exploiting the president's comments to "carry out a coup" against him.

(Additional reporting by Ari Rabinovitch, Nidal al-Mughrabi and Ali Sawafta; Editing by Jon Hemming)

FILED UNDER:
Photo

After wave of QE, onus shifts to leaders to boost economy

DAVOS, Switzerland - Central banks have done their best to rescue the world economy by printing money and politicians must now act fast to enact structural reforms and pro-investment policies to boost growth, central bankers said on Saturday.

Reuters Showcase

Record Earnings

Record Earnings

Apple iPhone sales trample expectations as profit sets global record  Full Article 

Motor Racing

Motor Racing

Force India to miss Jerez F1 test  Full Article 

'Umrika' At Sundance

'Umrika' At Sundance

From Oscars to Sundance, Sharma and Revolori discuss India's 'Umrika'  Full Article 

Australian Open

Australian Open

Djokovic, Wawrinka set up epic showdown, ill Serena through  Full Article 

India's Male Tenor

India's Male Tenor

India's lone male tenor aims to sing opera in local key  Full Article 

Hostage Case

Hostage Case

Jordan proposes prisoner swap, fate of Japanese IS hostage unclear  Full Article 

U.S. Blizzard

U.S. Blizzard

Blizzard hits Boston and New England, spares New York despite forecasts.  Full Article 

Spying Row

Spying Row

Spying program leaked by Snowden is tied to campaign in many countries.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage