Peres Seeks Meeting With Obama to Kick-start Peace Process

Israeli President expresses concern over current stalemate, voices disappointment over Netanyahu's statement that in any agreement the IDF would retain control of the Jordan Valley.

President Shimon Peres has asked the White House to arrange for him to meet with President Barack Obama over the coming month to discuss ideas to kick-start the peace process, Haaretz has learned.

Peres has privately been expressing concern over the current stalemate and its detrimental effect on Israel's international standing in general, and its relations with Egypt and Jordan in particular.

Shimon Peres - IDF - 13.2.2011
Shimon Peres speaking at farewell of IDF chief Gabi Ashkenazi, Feb. 13, 2011.IDF Spokesman's Office

Peres also voiced disappointment over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's statement on Tuesday that in any agreement, the Israel Defense Forces would retain control of the Jordan Valley.

On his visit to Spain about two weeks ago, Peres said the dramatic changes in the Arab world made it imperative to make every effort to resume peace talks immediately.

Eight years ago, as foreign minister in Ariel Sharon's government, Peres was the one who first came up with the idea of recognizing a Palestinian state in provisional borders, together with accelerated negotiations on a final-status agreement based on the 1967 lines. Peres reached an understanding about this with Ahmed Qureia, then head of the Palestinian negotiation team. But Sharon objected to any deal in which the United States guaranteed that the permanent border would be based on the Green Line.

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who heard this idea from Peres more than a year ago, conditioned his support on Israel agreeing to the principle that the 1967 lines would be the starting point for negotiations on the final border.

A President's Residence spokesman said Peres is expected to visit Geneva in late March to discuss Israel's participation in the CERN particle accelerator. Afterward he is due to go to London to take part in the 80th birthday celebrations of former Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev. The president is examining the possibility of continuing to Washington and New York from there.

"The plans are not yet final," the spokesman said. "We are in the early stages of talks with the American administration."