Last updated: 31 July, 2013

Israel’s Peres says no alternative to peace

Israeli President Shimon Peres on Wednesday said he was “hopeful” that peace talks with Palestinians will lead to a two-state solution and bring prosperity to the Middle East.

“As an Israeli I am now very hopeful because the peace process was renewed between the Palestinians and ourselves,” he told reporters on a visit to Lithuania, which holds the rotating EU presidency.

Peres, who turns 90 on Friday, spoke after the start of talks in Washington on Monday and Tuesday put an end to a three-year hiatus.

He said the talks had “a clear purpose” to have “a Jewish state by the name of Israel and an Arab state by the name of Palestine not fighting each other but living together in friendship and cooperation”.

“There is no alternative to peace, there is no sense to go to war,” he said in the capital Vilnius.

“Terror doesn’t have a message, terror cannot bake bread and cannot offer fresh air to breathe. It’s costly, it’s useless, it doesn’t produce anything.”

Through the meetings hosted by US Secretary of State John Kerry, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators agreed to aim for a peace deal within nine months.

Peres said the deal would be crucial to improving living standards in the Middle East.

“The Middle East may change if terror and crisis and hunger and unemployment and oppression will make place for a new age of economics, social affairs,” he said.

“We want to make peace not only with the Palestinians but with all the Arab countries.”

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite for her part said the 28-member European Union welcomes the renewed peace talks and is ready to help.

“We really hope that these negotiations will have a positive result and a peaceful two-state solution will be reached,” she said at a joint press conference.

“If the consensus is to be achieved, the EU is ready to support the post-conflict process and the implementations of peace agreements.”