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Arias visits region
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Costa Rican president: Palestinians don't need army
Costa Rican President Oscar Arias visiting Israel, talks to Ynet about his vision for resolving Mideastern conflict; Palestinian state should be demilitarized, core issues need to be addressed early, he says

The recipe for peace between Israel and the Palestinians includes negotiations, honesty, immediate talks on the core issues, and the establishment of a demilitarized Palestinian state – this is the vision presented by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias in a special interview with Ynet.

 

Arias, who is currently visiting Israel and the Palestinian Authority, boasts extensive experience in mediating peace agreements; his efforts prompted his Nobel Peace Prize win in 1987.

 

President Arias (Photo: Gil Yohanan)

In an interview with Ynet after meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Arias said his attempt to promote Israeli-Palestinian peace stems from Costa Rica's unique history. In 1948, the year Israel was established, the Latin state approved its new constitution, which abolished the army.

 

"I think the whole world expects both sides to return to the negotiating table," Arias said, adding that he shared with Netanyahu his personal peace-making experience. Contacts must be held at the highest levels and the talks must be personal, he said.

 

"You have to look your opponent in the eye," he said, noting that late PM Rabin also stressed that peace is made with enemies.

 

'Peace requires hard work' 

Arias added that his experience as mediator taught him that peace talks need to raise all important issues for discussion early, rather than delaying talks on the core issues to the end of the process.

 

"If we won't do it at the beginning of the road, it will only get harder," he said. "Peace requires hard work, patience, and perseverance."

 

The Costa Rican president said he accepted Netanyahu's call for a demilitarized Palestinian state. He noted that in his talks with the Palestinians he seeks to convince them to do without a military.

 

"A small, poor state like Palestine doesn't need an army," he said, adding that some courage is needed to take such decision and expressing his hope that the Palestinian Authority will have the courage to adopt such step.

 

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