"Progress that should not be underestimated" was achieved during US Secretary of State John Kerry's recent visit
to the region, President Shimon Peres
said Sunday evening.
"There is no alternative other than two states for two peoples; the rest is old wives' tales," Peres said at the inauguration of a science museum in Beersheba. You cannot run a country that is home to two nations. This would mean the continuation of the fight rather than the beginning of peace."
Speaking on the same day Kerry ended a shuttle diplomacy mission without an agreement on resuming Israeli-Palestinian peace
talks but said gaps had been narrowed and he would return to the region soon, President Peres claimed Israel has no other choice but to sign a peace agreement with the Palestinians and advance the two-state paradigm.
"I believe we do not have a choice. Tomorrow we will wake up without knowing which Egypt
we will find. We have no control over time, and time will not wait for us," Peres said during the ceremony. "I believe the disagreements that remain in the negotiations with the Palestinians are resolvable, and I believe that for the good of Israel, for the good of the Jewish people, for the good of our neighbors and for the good of peace, we should move forward vigorously and reach an agreement with the Palestinians. The problems can be solved in a relatively short period of time."
Peres urged the sides to try and reach an agreement that would restart the peace negotiations in Kerry's absence. "He (Kerry) left for Asia, but he left a team (of aides) behind. The issue has not been settled, but we can reach a solution that would guarantee peace and security (for Israel)," the president opined.
Prior to his departure, Kerry told reporters at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport: "I'm pleased to tell you that we have made real progress on this trip. And I believe that with a little more work, the start of final status negotiations could be within reach. We started out with very wide gaps, and we have narrowed those considerably."
Israeli officials confirmed Sunday evening that progress was in fact made in the talks aimed toward reviving the peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
"The gaps aren't that big and there is progress," the official said.
Kerry's aides were expected to meet with chief Israeli negotiator Tzipi Livni and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's personal envoy Yitzhak Molcho to update them on the secretary of state's meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
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