Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Thursday that the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians must be based on the idea of two states living side by side in peace.
Speaking at World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Livni said that a Palestinian state is ''not an illusion. It's there, it's achievable.''
The WEF hosted a panel of 2,500 world leaders, which was also attended by Vice Premier Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Livni called on the international community to support moderates in the Middle East and told Palestinian President Abbas that ''compromising with extremists will not promote anything.''
Peres and Abbas shake hands (Photo: Reuters)
Abbas listened intently, nodding his head, and afterward greeted her warmly with a long handshake. He reiterated that if he cannot form a unity government with Hamas officials, he would move to call early elections, but gave no specific timetable.
Livni spoke after Abbas said peace between Israel and the Palestinian territories was a concept whose time had come. In remarks at the session, Abbas said that "peace is due and peace is forthcoming."
Peres: Economics can help ensure lasting peace
Addressing a large crowd of political leaders, corporate bosses and others, Abbas, speaking in Arabic, said that such an agreement would help strengthen the hands of moderates in the region and fight extremism of all stripes.
"You agree with me that the Middle East is now in dire need of peace," he said, a reference to internal strife in Iraq, disagreement in Lebanon and elsewhere.
"The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is one of the most serious conflicts that require a solution. I am fully convinced that despite all the difficulties, an atmosphere conducive to the resumption of the peace process exists," he said. "One that could lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state."
As he spoke, Livni and Peres, seated on the stage near him, listened intently.
"We have the road map. A road map that includes the Arab initiative as well as President Bush's vision regarding the two-state solution," Abbas said. "What is required now, in all honesty, is for us to trace the beginning and the end of this peace process.
"The map is there," he said, adding that he told Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that they had started moving in the right direction.
Rice is set to hold a series of meetings with Abbas and Olmert in the coming weeks.
Peres told the conference that while politics was a driving force, it ultimately would be economics that could also help ensure a lasting peace.
He said that Jordan, Israel and the Palestinians should band together to promote an economic zone to drive investment in the region.
"We cannot save the Dead Sea unless we do it together," he said. "We cannot build new industry ... Unless we do it together."
He said the three had agreed "To take the whole length of the frontier" The three share, a 500 kilometer-long strip, "And convert it into an ongoing economic zone."
Demonstrations in Ramallah, Jerusalem
Meanwhile, Young Israelis and Palestinians from the One Voice movement launched a direct appeal to their leaders "to strengthen the moderates and end the conflict." In addition to the statements from Jerusalem, Ramallah and Tel Aviv, a PR film explaining the movement's activity will also be broadcast, including statements of Israelis and Palestinians demanding a better future for themselves and their children.
Adi Balderman from the One Voice movement promised the Israeli leaders that the majority of the public would stand behind them when they courageously take extreme measures in a bid to end the conflict.
Palestinian Nisarin Shahin reminded the leaders of her moral obligation to her 3-month-old child for a future of security and peace, while Eran Sheferman and Said Mashaal from Jerusalem called on the region's leaders to change Jerusalem's future.
The Palestinian activists of One Voice have been subject to life threats while preparing their statements, but insisted to continue to convey a message of dialogue and hope to the entire world.
One Voice was founded in 2002 and operates in Israel, the Palestinian Authority and worldwide in order to voice the hope for an end to the conflict. According to the movement, a vast majority among the two nations was tired of the ongoing conflict and was interested in leading a normal and safe life in two sovereign and stable states.