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Two-state solution remains best option for Israel, Palestinians: Peres

By Yang Zhiwang (Xinhua)

08:12, June 19, 2013

JERUSALEM, June 18 (Xinhua) -- The two-state solution, which has received considerable support among the Israelis, remains the best choice for Israel and the Palestinians to solve their decades- old conflict, Israeli President Shimon Peres told Xinhua in a recent interview.

"Neither the Palestinians nor us have a better alternative. This is the best, for them and for us," Peres said, referring to the widely advocated proposal of establishing an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem living peacefully alongside Israel.

Dismissing fears that the historic Oslo Accords are dead, the Israeli president, winner of the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize for his contributions to the Middle East peace process, called for more patience. "Things take time, so is the peace," he said.

Under the Oslo Accords, a Palestinian state was supposed to be created five years after the signing of the documents by Israel and Palestinians in September 1993. Many prominent figures, including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, has warned that there is no much time for the two-state solution.

Peres, who will turn 90 in August, vowed to carry on his efforts to seek peace with the Palestinians.

"I am continuing to work on it. I am sorry it takes more time than I hope to," he said. "Peace is not perfect, but is the real choice."

Peres said a series of positive changes have taken place after the two sides signed the Oslo Accords with the mediation of the then U.S. administration of Bill Clinton.

"(Now) There is a Palestinian authority, a Palestinian economy, a Palestinian security force; they are modernizing their economy. On the other side in Israel, people who previously disagreed to have two states agreed today to have the two states," he said.

"There is a great deal of scepticism, people don't believe, we have to overcome it, but the future is to have two states for two peoples living in peace as good neighbors, instead of continuing the quarrel..." Peres said.

"We made peace with Egypt, we gave them back all the land, all the water, everything, and it holds on. We made peace with the Jordanians, and we gave them back everything," he noted. "Now we have to complete it with the Palestinians, enable them to have a state, independent and respectful, and we can live together."

Peres, whose term will end next year, insists the disagreements between Israel and Palestinians can be resolved through negotiations.

"We have a beginning with the (establishment of) the Palestinian Authority, we agreed how to conclude it by a two-state solution, we have disagreements between the two. I know these disagreements and I think they are manageable," he said. "We have overcome a lot of difficulties."

Peres also expressed his confidence in the intensive mediation efforts by John Kerry, who is expected to come back to the region soon for the fifth time this year to persuade Israel and Palestinians to restart the long-stalled peace talks.

Peace talks between Israel and Palestinians came to a halt in October 2010 after the then Israeli government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to extend a freeze on settlement building in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

When asked about the possibility for the present Israeli government to make a breakthrough on the Palestinian issue, Peres said he does "believe there is a majority even in this government for a two-state solution" despite the fact that it "decided to handle, first of all, the social and economic issue" after its formation.

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