Peres: we must return to peace talks before September

By Jennifer Lipman, August 11, 2011
Shimon Peres

Shimon Peres

The Israeli president has told a delegation of US congressman that he hoped "both sides" would return to Middle East peace talks within the next month.

Shimon Peres called for negotiations to resume "before September", when the Palestinians plan to unilaterally declare statehood at the United Nations.

He said: "The peace process is experiencing some difficulties, as usual, but I believe that peace can be achieved.

"Even some of the Palestinians who are considering asking the UN for recognition are not sure that it is the right move."

Mr Peres also said that the UN bid would not provide solutions to other key issues, including stopping global terror or the Iranian threat.

"A UN declaration would be lacking any meaning and will only lengthen the conflict," he said. "Both us and the Palestinians understand that the alternative to peace is continued mistakes."

Democratic Party whip and long-time Maryland Congressman Steny Hoyer, one of a group of 26 on a visit to Israel organised by the American Israel Education Foundation, told Mr Peres: "We believe the Palestinians would be making an error seeking UN recognition now before negotiations."

"We urge the Palestinians and the Israelis to return to the table without preconditions."

The pair also discussed the deaths of 30 servicemen in Afghanistan after their helicopter was shot down last week, the biggest single loss of life for US forces since the conflict began.

Mr Peres offered his condolences and said: "I know you lost some of your best boys."

Last updated: 11:04am, August 11 2011