Israeli President Shimon Peres appealed from the graveside of slain prime minister Yitzhak Rabin on Wednesday for Palestinian leaders to renew peace talks with Israel.
“I call from here to the Palestinian leadership and advise it to return immediately to direct negotiations with Israel in order to straighten out our remaining differences,” Peres said at a state ceremony marking the 16th anniversary of Rabin’s assassination by a Jewish extremist opposed to peace with the Palestinians.
Peace, he said, would not be achieved through the Palestinian campaign to secure state membership at the United Nations.
“Peace will not be achieved at the UN, because the UN cannot deliver independence to the Palestinians or deliver security to Israel,” he said.
Wednesday’s ceremony marked the anniversary of Rabin’s death in accordance with the Jewish calendar.
Rabin is revered as a national hero, both for his career as army chief and for peace efforts in the 1990s that earned him a Nobel peace prize shared with Peres and the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
The agreements engineered by Rabin, Peres and Arafat have largely been undone by the violence of the past decade.
Israel and the Palestinian leadership started new US-brokered direct talks last September, but they swiftly collapsed and the Palestinians refuse to talk until Israel reimposes a moratorium on settlement building in the occupied West Bank.
“I believe it is possible to renew the peace process that Yitzhak started,” Peres said.