Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said in Davos, Switzerland on Thursday that they were willing to start serious negotiations to promote the peace process.
"We're ready as of now to start serious negotiations with Israel," Abbas told a session of the World Economic Forum annual meeting, which had chosen the Middle East as one of its focuses this year.
"You agree with me that the Middle East is now in dire need of peace, and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is one of the most serious conflicts that require a solution," Abbas said, as Livni and Shimon Peres, vice prime minister of Israel, listened intently nearby.
The session, titled "Enough Is Enough - Israel and the Palestinian Territories," was attended by a large crowd of political leaders and corporate bosses, who gave warm applause to the three politicians as they mounted the platform and shook hands.
Abbas reiterated that the Palestinians want an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital and that can live side by side with Israel in peace and security.
"We have the road map. A road map that includes the Arab initiative as well as President Bush's vision regarding the two- state solution," Abbas said. "What is required now, in all honesty, is for us to trace the beginning and the end of this peace process. "
Livni, for her part, also expressed her wish to start the peace process, but indicated that obstacles between the two sides cannot be put aside.
She said advancing the peace process was part of the "dreams and goals" of herself and the Israeli leadership.
"I'd like to negotiate, speak and talk to see what we can achieve," she said. "I'd like to hear your concerns and share our concerns with you."
"But we cannot fool us," she said, indicating that "difficult decisions" need to be made and both sides should not hide their problems and challenges.
(Xinhua News Agency January 26, 2007)