Shimon Peres insists two-state solution is best way for Israel


Former president Shimon Peres has reaffirmed his commitment to a two-state solution to resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

Mr Peres, who was guest of honour at the annual Zionist Federation dinner, said he "respected" the result of the recent Israeli election which led to a right-wing coalition government in which senior ministers are said to back a one-state solution.

Interviewed by Israeli-Arab journalist Lucy Aharish at the ZF event on Sunday, Mr Peres said: “I really believe there is no alternative to a two-state solution.

“What is the alternative to a two-state solution? One-state? Neither will be happy."

He added: “We are trying to make peace with the Palestinians. It is difficult - but neither them nor us have a choice but to give priority to peace.”

Mr Peres, who twice served as a Labour prime minister, said that he had expected a different outcome when Israelis went to the polls.

He added: "But elections are elections and you have to take it whether you win it or you lose it. In spite of all the differences, Israel is still a democratic country and the people decide - so I respect the result."

Lord Levy, Israeli ambassador Daniel Taub and Baroness Deech all spoke at the dinner, praising Mr Peres, with Lord Levy describing him as "a true legend".

Baroness Ruth Deech welcomed the unseating of anti-Israel politicians George Galloway and David Ward at the UK general election this month.

She said: "As a result of the general election, i am pleased to announce that there is now no Israel free zone in the UK. There are no MPs that declare they stand ready to fire rockets into Israel if they find themselves in Gaza."

Recognising the work of the ZF, she added: "Its defence of Israel can never stop, because there will always be those who want to destroy her for their own purposes."

Paul Charney, ZF chairman, said: "The truth of the matter is none of you should be here tonight. I shouldn’t be giving this speech, this room should be empty and the ZF should not exist. because we started 100 years ago with one single objective in mind: the establishment of the state of Israel."

He said that despite the establishment of the Jewish state, anti-Israel discourse and boycott motions made the organisation necessary. "Today the ZF does exist because we have to exist," he said.

Around 900 guests attended the dinner at the central London Grosvenor Hotel. They included Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, three bishops, eight ambassadors, and MPs, MEPS and peers from across the political spectrum.

Mr Charney added that Chief Rabbi Mirvis' attendance served as "a reminder of the unbreakable bond between Judaism and Zionism - the spiritual connection that binds our faith to the land of Israel."

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