Peres urges Abbas to stay on



TEL AVIV - Israeli President Shimon Peres on Saturday used a speech honouring slain premier Yitzhak Rabin to urge Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas to stay in power despite frustrations over the peace process.
"We both signed the Oslo accords and I address myself to you (Abbas) as a colleague would: Don't give up," Peres said at a mass rally in a Tel Aviv square where Rabin was gunned down in 1995.



He was referring to the deal that gave Palestinians autonomy, which Peres and Abbas signed at a 1993 White House ceremony overseen by then US president Bill Clinton, Rabin and late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
At the time, Peres was Israel's foreign minister while Abbas represented the Palestine Liberation Organisation.
Abbas announced on Thursday he will not seek re-election in January, voicing annoyance at Washington's failure to press Israel to halt settlement constructions.
His decision has been seen as a major blow to Washington's efforts to re-launch Middle East peace talks frozen since Israel's devastating offensive on the Gaza Strip at the turn of the year.
"I know the sufferings that your people have endured for the past 50 years... I know my people and the Israeli government and I tell you that Israel wants real peace," Peres said.
"Maybe next year will bring independence for the Palestinian people... Next year could be decisive, it depends on you and on us," he added.
About 20,000 people massed in the square where Rabin was killed by a Jewish extremist on November 4, 1995, after attending a peace rally.
In a recorded video message beamed on a giant screen, US President Barack Obama reaffirmed his administration's support for "two states living side by side in peace and security."
"America's bonds with our Israeli allies are unbreakable," Obama said in the brief address, adding however that "Israel will not find security as long as Palestinians are in despair.
"We will never loose sight of our shared purpose for a just and lasting peace in Israel, in Palestine and in the arab World."
Bad weather last week delayed the annual event.
Rabin is revered as a national hero, both for his legendary career as army chief and for peace efforts in the 1990s that earned him a Nobel peace prize shared with Israeli President Shimon Peres and the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in 1994, a year after the Oslo accords.
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Sunday, November 8th 2009
AFP
           


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