Rassegna Stampa Elezioni Israeliane 2009

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Peres sees a ‘fair chance’ for advances in Mideast

Posted by claudiacampli su 29 gennaio, 2009

IHT

By Katrin Bennhold

Published: January 29, 2009

DAVOS, Switzerland: President Shimon Peres of Israel said Thursday that he remained optimistic that a new American president and a new Israeli prime minister have a viable opportunity to press ahead for a Middle East peace accord.

Peres, in an interview here, welcomed the new impetus brought by the election of President Barack Obama and the swift appointment of an American special envoy, George Mitchell, who has already engaged in a first listening tour.

Israeli elections take place on Feb. 10, and in the first 100 days of a new Israeli administration, once a coalition is negotiated, Peres said in the interview that there was a window of opportunity to press ahead toward peace, building on the many months of negotiations that have already taken place between the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, and the Israeli government.

Peres defended his view by saying that negotiations with the Palestinians were not starting from scratch and had made significant progress in the year leading up to Israel’s latest assault on Gaza.

He also listed a number of conditions he said made a peace deal more conceivable this year than for a long time, including a thaw in trans-Atlantic relations and lower oil prices, which are depriving hostile countries like Iran of revenues.

“The first 100 days are the best a government has,” Peres said in an interview at the World Economic Forum here, where he has been a regular presence. “The problems are known. The negotiators know them. If they are handled carefully, there is a fair chance we can make critical advances.”

A day after meeting Mitchell in Israel, Peres said that he had clearly sensed a momentum to act.

“I think the Obama administration would like to start as early as possible and move as fast as they can, trying to bring back the peace negotiations on track,” Peres said. “I told Mr. Mitchell and I told the heads of our parties. I said, look, let’s do it, right at the beginning of the term. Don’t wait for the four years to pass. The best time is the early portion of the term.”

But Peres was hazier on the question of Palestinian disunity. Abbas has been Israel’s sole negotiating partner, but he has had no authority in Gaza since Hamas defeated his Fatah faction in a civil war in June 2007.

Hamas, which refused to recognize Israel’s right to exist, has accepted Abbas’s right to negotiate with Israel, but has also asserted that his four-year presidential term officially expired on Jan. 9.

Peres hinted that Israel would be willing to talk to a Palestinian national unity government as long as it accepted the terms so far negotiated with Abbas, but as Israel’s figurehead president, Peres can only give advice.

“It’s their problem. Look, we are not matchmakers,” he said.

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