Shimon Peres, Mahmoud Abbas in secret London peace talks

EXCLUSIVE


Shimon Peres

Shimon Peres

A secret meeting between Israeli President Shimon Peres and Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority, has taken place in London as part of a series of back-channel negotiations to reach a peace agreement in the Middle East, the JC can reveal.

The meeting, hosted over dinner by UK businessman Poju Zabludowicz at his north London home, was modelled on the secret negotiations hosted by lawyer Victor Mishcon between Mr Peres and and King Hussein in advance of the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan in 1994.

There has been considerable speculation about the secret negotiations, but the JC can now confirm that the meeting took place in March during Mr Abbas's official visit to the UK. Various sources close to Mr Zabludowicz confirmed his involvement at the heart of the process. Neither the UK government nor the Israeli embassy was present during the meeting, which was conducted under the highest levels of security, although the JC understands the Foreign Office is aware that it took place and has given it its blessing.

Mr Zabludowicz is the Chairman of BICOM, the British-based Israel advocacy organisation, but the dinner was hosted in his personal capacity. His private investment group, Tamares, makes him one of Britain's richest men and he and his wife are renowned art collectors.

Only the closest advisors to Mr Peres and Mr Abbas were present during the negotiations. Israeli sources suggest the meeting was part of a series of four meetings between the two men.

Mr Zabludowicz was unavailable for comment.

More to follow...

    Last updated: 4:32pm, August 17 2011