Abbas and Peres call for peace

Israeli and Palestinian presidents make landmark addresses to Turkey's parliament.

    Peres is the first Israeli president to address the legislature of a Muslim country [AFP]
    "If there is peace between Israel and the Palestinians and the occupation of Arab lands ends, Israel will also live in a sea of peace, security and stability in the Middle East," Abbas said.

    "There will no longer be wars ... and all the peoples in the region will live in security and stability," he said, becoming the first Palestinian president to address the Turkish legislature.

    Different approaches

    Abbas and Peres were in Turkey for a meeting to establish a Turkish-sponsored industrial park in the West Bank.

    Mike Hanna, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Turkey, said the two leaders took different approaches to the subject of peace when addressing the 550-seat parliament, which included Abdullah Gul, the Turkish president.

    Hanna said that Abbas hit the "real political nitty gritty of the details" that should be expected to come out of the forthcoming US-sponsored Middle East peace meeting due to take place in Annapolis, Maryland, while Peres' speech looked to the fringes and ceremonial nature of the occasion.

    Abbas said the Israeli occupation "does not bind with any religious or humanitarian views" and did not contribute to an atmosphere of trust.

    "We are working with our full force to ensure that the meeting in Annapolis is a success," he said.

    Abbas spoke frankly about the path to
    peace with Israel [AFP]

    Peres said: "The state of Israel is required to end this dispute and peace is its most important thing. It honours the Palestinian people and its chosen head, Mahmoud Abbas, who is an extraordinary leader.

    "Annapolis will not just be a performance, it is a stage on an agreed path that could lead to a peace agreement in the right direction. It must not be allowed to become a historical failure," he said.

    Turkey thanked

    Abbas expressed gratitude to the people of Turkey for its longstanding support of the Palestinian cause, and Peres thanked Turkey for welcoming Jews into the country after being expelled from Spain in the 1450s.

    Speaking ahead of the parliament address, Peres on Monday welcomed the participation of all "moderate countries" in the Annapolis conference.

    He said "the voice of peace will be stronger and louder" with more participants attending.

    But Ehud Barak, the Israeli defence minister, dampened the prospect of progress at the meeting, for which a date and list of participants has yet to be set.

    "No arrangements concluded at Annapolis will be implemented until the first stage of the roadmap has taken effect," Barak told Israeli public radio.

    He was referring to an internationally-drafted peace plan in 2003 which called for complete halt to violence and an end to Jewish settlement building in the occupied West Bank.

    "What will be discussed at the meeting and the time of the meeting still has to be set by the United States, but it could happen on November 27 and finish the same day," one Israeli official said.

    "It's not a conference, as Israel has explained many times, but a meeting where representatives will read declarations without entering into negotiations," the official added.

    Turkey, a Nato member and Israel's closest ally in the Islamic world, has in the past played the role of mediator between the Jewish state and its Muslim neighbours.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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