Peres: Israel needs to formulate its own Mideast peace plan
President says Israel's focus should be on making peace not on offering peace plans; comment comes amid reports of a planned U.S. initiative to restart stalled peace talks.
Israel needs to draft its own Mideast peace initiative if it wants to avoid international pressure over a reported U.S peace plan, President Shimon Peres said on Friday, following a report claiming Washington was working on a plan to restart stalled peace talks.
Peres' comments came in the wake of a New York Times report claiming that the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama was drafting a new peace plan which included a Palestinian state within 1967 borders and which rejected Palestinian refugees' right of return.
Speaking during a visit to southern Israel, the president referred to reported U.S. plans to present a new outline for Mideast peace, accusing those reports as being "all speculation."
"It's too early to say anything, but if we don't want foreign plans, the best way would be a plan of our own, and if we do that others won't go ahead with theirs," Peres said, adding that the "issue isn't offering peace plans but bringing forth peace."
Peres' comments also came after UN political chief Lynn Pascoe and ambassadors of key Security Council countries said it was important to break the peace-talks deadlock soon as a proclaimed September deadline for reaching an agreement draws closer.
Peace talks opened last September with the aim of an accord in one year but quickly broke down after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to extend a partial freeze on Jewish settlement building in the occupied West Bank.
Palestinian leaders have said that if the deadline expires with no deal, they may seek UN backing for a Palestinian state -- a move that Israel and its big power ally the United States are keen to avoid.
"Bold and decisive steps are needed to resolve this decades-long conflict, with vision, leadership and responsibility from all concerned," Pascoe told a monthly meeting of the Security Council on the Middle East.