U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged Israel and the Palestinians to reach a political settlement, warning that the absence of peace would result in "perpetual war."
"Do we want to live with a permanent intifada?" Kerry asked in his address to the World Economic Forum on the Jordanian shores of the Dead Sea.
There was no choice but to continue striving for peace, Kerry said, adding that the only way for Israel to survive as a Jewish state was the two-state solution. He also told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres that he had an agreement ready and waiting with him, should they want to come up on stage and sign.
In his own address to the forum earlier Sunday evening, Abbas said Sunday that he would refuse any solution calling for "temporary borders," adding that he was committed to the creation of a Palestinian state within the 1967 lines with East Jerusalem as its borders.
Abbas acknowledged Kerry's efforts for peace and thanked him, but emphasized: "Please forget temporary borders."
Temporary borders "will not end the conflict," Abbas said. "They will prolong it."
Abbas also urged Israel to "please read" the Arab Peace Initiative, deeming Israel's current activity in the West Bank and in Jerusalem as "unbearable" and saying it would put an "end to the possibility of the two-state solution."
The younger generation of Palestinians is losing hope in the possibility of a two-state solution, Abbas said, adding that it was that "desperate segment of population" who would be left to control the future. "This doesn't represent our policies," he said, adding: "We don't instigate violence in textbooks or in the media."
Abbas also complained that Israel was refusing to negotiate on the issue of Palestinian refugees. "When we talk about refugees and we have talked several times in the past these days we hear only that we don't want to talk about this issue."
The Palestinian president also took Israel to task for failing to free security prisoners. "There is an agreement to free the prisoners detained before 1993. There aren't more than 100," Abbas said.
Israel responds to Palestinian request to free their prisoners with, 'Why should we release these prisoners for free?' Abbas said. "Do you want us to abduct other Shalits?" he asked. "This is not part of our culture."
President Peres used his own address to the conference right before his Palestinian counterpart to call for the resumption of the long-stalled peace talks.
"We and our Palestinian neighbors must return to negotiations as soon as possible and bring peace," Peres told the forum, calling The Arab Peace Initiative "a meaningful change and a strategic opportunity."
Both sides must realize that war need not be the permanent state in the region, Peres told the forum. "We must depart from the skepticism that claims that war is inevitable," he said. "War is not inevitable. Peace is inevitable."
"Secretary Kerry brings with him an impressive momentum and desire to contribute to the completion of the peace process," the Israeli president said of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who was in attendance after recently concluding his fourth official trip to Israel as part of efforts to jumpstart the political process.
Peres also lauded Kerry's efforts to bring an end to the violence in Syria, but emphasized that Israel was not looking to take part in the civil war raging in its neighbor to the north. "Secretary Kerry is currently trying to bring an end to this tragedy," he said. "Israel is not intervening in the Syrian crisis. We support the secretary's efforts to bring an end to the violence. We are silent, but not indifferent. There is a need to lower the flames."
Peres earlier Sunday, prior to his address, warned of "great disappointment" should Israelis and Palestinians fail to return to the negotiating table.
"It is time for peace," Peres told reporters on the sidelines of the conference. "I believe this is an important opportunity to (engage), not to waste time, return to negotiations and complete the negotiations with the Palestinians."
He said a peace agreement must be "based on a two state solution: an Israeli state, a Palestinian state living as good neighbors cooperating economically and bringing a message to the young generation."
Peres met Jordanian King Abdullah II earlier Sunday on the sidelines of the forum, and stressed that a two state solution was the only viable way to end the Israel-Palestinian conflict and enhance security and stability in the region.
The two leaders also discussed how peace talks could be resumed and detailed the obstacles the peace process must overcome. For his part, the king underlined the importance of the Arab peace initiative as an approach to bring about a final and just peace to the region.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, who is also attending the conference, told Haaretz earlier Sunday that any Israeli declaration of commitment to a Palestinian state created within the 1967 borders must come from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government, not from any other official, including the president. "We know that the Israeli form of government has the government and the prime minster in charge of setting policy and not the president," he said.
Erekat added that the Israeli government must decide whether or not it is interested in a two-state solution and that if it does this means that it must halt the construction of settlements and define the 1967 borders as the basis of negotiations.
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