'The Time for Peace Is Now,' Peres Says in Jordan

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat tells Haaretz that the Israeli government, not any other official, must say it accepts 1967 borders.

Israeli President Shimon Peres Sunday called for reviving the long-stalled peace process, warning of a "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 World Economic Forum on the Jordanian shores of the Dead Sea. "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."

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told Haaretz that an Israeli statement announcing that Israel agrees to a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders should be made by the Israeli government and not any other official. "We know that the Israeli form of government has the government and the prime minster in charge of setting policy and not the president."

Erekat said 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.

According to Erekat the Palestinians have agreed to give Kerry the opportunity to promote the peace process because this would help both sides but added that one cannot talk about an optimistic atmosphere. "We aren't in the business of atmospherewe are in the business of finding out whether Israel is willing to take upon itself a commitment to peace."

Peres was to address the conference later Sunday. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate was expected to call upon Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to enter into direct peace talks.

During the speech, Peres was expected to assert that the "clear majority" of Israelis are in support of a two-state formula based on lines established following the 1967 war, according to Israeli media reports.

Peres' address was attended by dozens of Arab leaders and senior officials, including the Iraqi and Jordanian prime ministers, and chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat.

Abbas on Saturday addressed the biannual conference, devoted to addressing the political and economic challenges facing the region.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is also set to address the forum, is touring the region in a bid to restart the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians. Peres said that his appointment as secretary of state poses an opportunity, which must not be missed.