Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer: "We believe the Palestinians would be making an error seeking UN recognition now before negotiations."

 President Peres meets with visiting Members of Congress


President Peres with visiting Members of Congress (Photo: Mark Naiman)

(Communicated by the President’s media advisor)

President Shimon Peres conducted a working meeting this morning (Wednesday, 10 August 2011) with 26 Democratic Members of Congress that are visiting Israel in a delegation headed by the Democratic Whip, Rep. Steny Hoyer. The visit was organized by American Israel Education Foundation, and is the first of a number of Congressional delegations that will visit Israel in the next few weeks in an effort to strengthen relations between the United States and Israel.

Rep. Hoyer presented President Peres with a parchment copy of House Resolution 268 which was adopted on May 13, 2011. Rep. Hoyer said when presenting it: "As you know we have a lot of partisan differences in our Congress today, but there is real value and centrality on the policies of the United States towards Israel and there is little if any partisan difference in the Congress on the issue of Israel. Rep. Cantor and I introduced a resolution that was passed by the Congress, just a few weeks ago. That resolution articulated, once again, and reaffirmed our unyielding support for Israel, and our opposition to either party its declaring independence. 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." 

President Peres responded by saying: "Thank you very much from the depth of my heart. You are always so generous and friendly to our people and our nation. For us your visit here is a real event. We never forget your bipartisan support of Israel which is an expression of the people of the United States." President Peres also expressed his condolences on the loss of the servicemen killed recently in Afghanistan saying: "I know you lost some of your best boys." In addition, he said that regardless of the current economic situation, the United States would overcome its difficulties and continue to be the "only country that seriously pays attention to the problems of the rest of the world."

Regarding the Palestinian issue President Peres 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 U.N. for recognition are not sure that it is the right move. The U.N. cannot provide solutions like stopping global terror or Iranian terror specifically. A U.N. declaration would be lacking any meaning and will only lengthen the conflict. I hope that both sides will come back to the negotiating table before September. Both us and the Palestinians understand that the alternative to peace is continued mistakes."

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PM Netanyahu, who also met with the delegation, said that he was committed to peace: "The only way to achieve peace between us and the Palestinians is through direct negotiations. We are ready to begin negotiations without prior conditions immediately. If the UN recognizes a unilateral Palestinian step, this will harm the chance of achieving peace."