Meeting at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem Tuesday, President Shimon Peres and Quartet envoy Tony Blair express their support for the Egyptian-backed ceasefire.
Directing his remarks to the Palestinian people, Peres says, “the Palestinian people are not our enemies, the people of Gaza are not our enemies. We share the same aim which is an end to terror, security and calm for civilians everywhere. We must return to peace talks to achieve the only viable, long term solution — two states for two peoples.
“I want to say something to the people of Gaza. This was the third major escalation in the past 6 years. Each time it is innocent civilians that suffer and pay the price. Rockets and terror bring you no closer to your national aspirations. Terrorism will not deliver for the Palestinian people. The children of Gaza deserve the same opportunities as children everywhere which is to be secure and free. But Hamas continues to hold them hostage. They seek death over life.”
Peres also praises PA President Mahmoud Abbas: “President Abbas is not only a partner for Israel but is the best hope for the Palestinians for a future of stability, respect, independence and prosperity. He is a man of peace, a responsible leader. Our hand will always be raised to defend ourselves against those who seek to harm us. And stretched out in friendship to those who seek peace.”
Turning to the former British prime minister, Peres says, “I want to thank Mr. Blair for his involvement and support. He belongs to those who won’t compromise in the fight for peace. Thank you for your courage and your devotion.”
Blair says he welcomes the Egyptian initiative, and thanks the leadership in Cairo for its leadership. “This has now been accepted and endorsed by the Arab League, by President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority and now by the Government of Israel and the whole of the international community. The ceasefire is important because it gives us the opportunity to stop the tragic loss of life, the misery and the fear. The number of people who have died in Gaza is indeed tragic, people in Israel in these last days living in fear of terror and rocket attacks.”
“The purpose is also to give us the opportunity to put in place a long term solution,” says Blair. “This is not a ceasefire which ends with the fact of the absence of immediate rocket attacks and retaliation. The purpose of this ceasefire is to give us an opportunity to bring genuine hope for the future for the people of Gaza, to have Gaza opened up again to the world, to have Gaza and the West Bank re-united but to do so in a way that gives real and permanent security to the people of Israel, the freedom from rocket attacks, from tunnels, from terrorism.”