Israeli President Shimon Peres told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz last week that he believed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was a worthy partner in the quest for peace and Israel still had a chance for peace in the next three years.
Referring to Abbas by his informal name, Abu Mazen, Peres said, "I've had no small number of conversations with Abu Mazen. All of them were with the prime minister's knowledge. He knows all the details. Based on these conversations, I'm convinced we could have achieved peace with Abu Mazen. He's a worthy partner and can deliver the goods."
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Peres said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had removed roadblocks in the West Bank, leading to a strengthening of the Palestinian economy and "building a state-in-the-making" but there were no negotiations because the prime minister "thinks there's a different way," according to Haaretz.
Peres said, "We also built a state before we became a state. To a great degree, that's what the Palestinians are doing today."
According to the Associated Press, talks between the two parties collapsed more than three years ago. The Palestinians have said they will not come to the negotiation table while Israel continues building settlements on what they believe would form a future Palestinian state.
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Last week, Abbas said he had no intention of dissolving the Palestinian Authority, though its reason for existing was largely undermined by Israel, reported AFP. Abbas sent a letter to Netanyahu stating that the PA's raison d'etre had been stripped.
The letter said, "As a result of actions taken by successive Israeli governments, the Palestinian National Authority no longer has any authority, and no meaningful jurisdiction in the political, economic, territorial and security spheres," according to AFP.
Speaking about the chances for a peace agreement in the next three years, Peres told Haaretz, "There's a reasonable chance. I don't know any prime minister who has influenced reality more than reality has influenced him. There is no prime minister who isn't eventually influenced by reality."
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