Middle East peace will be achieved with direct talks between Palestinians and Israel, not through unilateral action at the United Nations, President Peres said at the annual memorial commemorating the assassination of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in Jerusalem.
Speaking at the ceremony in the capital’s Mount Herzl, Peres said that a “territorial compromise is essential to ending bloodshed and wars.”
“[Rabin’s] diplomatic path has been accepted and is now held by the majority, a solution of two states for two peoples,” the president said, adding that stalled peace talks, originally initiated by the assassinated premier with the Palestinians, could be restarted through direct talks only.
“I call on the Palestinian leadership and urge it to return to the negotiations table immediately in order to settle our differences. Peace will not be achieved in the United Nations because the UN cannot provide independence to the Palestinians and cannot supply security to Israel,” Peres said.
The president said that every negotiation “begins with discord, and its purpose is to create agreement,” adding: “That is how it was in the Oslo Accords.”
Peres reiterated Rabin’s role in paving a path toward peace with the Palestinian Authority and the two-state solution, saying that the former PM’s efforts led to a situation in which, “for the first time in history, a Palestinian leader publically renounced the 1947 borders and moved on to the 1967 borders, thus relinquishing 22 percent of the territory.”
“A Palestinian Authority was formed that recognized Israel and lifted the heavy financial burden of running Palestinian infrastructures and services off of Israel’s shoulders,” Peres said.
Speaking of Rabin, who was assassinated 16 years ago, the president said the former premier was a “general in times of war, and a statesman in times of peace. A captain of social justice.”
“As a general, he brought victory in the greatest of Israel’s wars – the Six-Day War. As a statesman he initiated peace with the Palestinian neighbor and with Jordan,” Peres said, adding that Rabin’s cabinet was one of “social justice.”
“In war, Yitzhak knew that the real victory would be the one which would end with peace. He believed that true peace would bring security, that Israel should refrain from ruling another people,” he added.
Culminating his speech, Peres wondered whether Israel had done enough “for a catastrophe [such as Rabin’s assassination] would not happen again,” criticizing recent so-called “price-tag” attacks.