Shimon Peres and Mahmoud Abbas Daniel Bar-On October, 2008
President Shimon Peres welcoming Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the President's Residence in Jerusalem in October, 2008. Photo by Daniel Bar-On
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President Shimon Peres said Monday that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is the best Palestinian leader Israel could work with toward the goal of resuming the peace process.

"I call on my friend, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who I respect and acknowledge as the best leader Israel will work with, to return to the negotiating table," Peres said Monday at a Rosh Hashanah ceremony with foreign diplomats.

Peres pressed that peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians is possible. "Let's decide the facts in the Middle East reality that is changing before our eyes," he said.
He also called on both sides to adhere to the timetable the Mideast Quartet presented for renewing negotiations and reaching a peace agreement.

"There is a clear majority in both nations for the principle of two states for two peoples and now that the speeches are over, it is time for the real work on the ground," Peres said. "We must translate the declarations to reality."

A day earlier, Abbas termed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the most inflexible leader he had ever known, in an interview with the pan-Arab newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat.

"Benjamin Netanyahu's ideological positions do not allow him to advance forward," Abbas said.

When he was asked to rank the Israeli leaders with whom he worked, he said Netanyahu is ranked last, saying that "with Rabin, Peres, Sharon, Olmert, and Livni, negotiations were possible."