Posted at 12:26 a.m. PST Monday, December 8, 1997 Peres: Palestinian state, Golan pullout OK JERUSALEM (Reuters) --- Former Prime Minister Shimon Peres has urged Israel to accept a Palestinian state and to give up the Golan Heights if it wants peace with Syrian President Hafez al-Assad. Speaking to his Labor party late on Sunday, Peres said: ``A state or no state? It must be heard in a clear voice -- a state, because we cannot take on our shoulders the economic and social responsibility of 3 million Arabs.'' ``Secondly in the matter of borders -- it must be decided: the truth is Assad wants peace. He won't make peace if anyone believes it's possible to do it on part of the Golan Heights,'' Peres said in the remarks broadcast by army radio on Monday. Israeli political reporters said the remarks were the Nobel peace laureate's most unequivocal public comments to date on the two ``land-for-peace'' issues at the heart of peacemaking with the Palestinians and Syria. ``In such a blunt way -- this is the first time,'' Yedioth Ahronoth correspondent Shimon Shiffer told Reuters. The Jerusalem Post newspaper wrote that Peres, 74, stole the show at the Labor party convention from Ehud Barak, the 55-year-old former army chief who took over the leadership from Peres in June. Israel's rightist Likud party leader Benjamin Netanyahu, 48, defeated Peres in elections in May 1996, resisting the land-for-peace policies of the more dovish Labour and vowing to take a tougher stance in negotiations with the Arabs. Likud rejects establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip lands captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war. Labour's official platform neither embraces the concept of a state nor rejects it. ``I don't know why the Netanyahu government wants to waste time. It has wasted a year and a half. In this year and a half Israel's situation has deteriorated -- the country has been weakened, the economy has been weakened. What did we profit?'' Peres told Israel Radio in an interview on Monday. Syria demands Israel cede all of the Golan Heights captured in the 1967 war in any peace deal. Labour party governments had in the past offered to withdraw to a depth equivalent to the depth of peace without committing publicly to a full withdrawal. ``So long as the agreement is put off, the price of the agreement will not drop but the cost of the delay will go up in human lives, in loss of prestige, in loss of power, in loss of friends -- for what?'' Peres told the radio. )1997 Mercury Center. The information you receive online from Mercury Center is protected by the copyright laws of the United States. The copyright laws prohibit any copying, redistributing, retransmitting, or repurposing of any copyright-protected material.
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Fri Apr 13 2001 - 12:56:30 PDT