Peres makes

The Jewish Chronicle - - World News - BY SAMI KOHENANKARA

IS­RAELI PRES­I­DENT Shi­mon Peres ini­ti­ated a plan to es­tab­lish an in­dus­trial zone in the West Bank dur­ing a his­toric three-day visit to Turkey this week.

The new eco­nomic project, spon­sored and fi­nanced by in­dus­tri­al­ists from Turkey and Is­rael, is in­tended to cre­ate jobs for thou­sands of Pales­tini­ans in the West Bank.

A sim­i­lar project was agreed for the Gaza Strip two years ago, but was dis­rupted fol­low­ing the Ha­mas takeover.

In Mr Peres’s ad­dress to the Turk­ish Na­tional As­sem­bly, thought to be the first oc­ca­sion on which an Is­raeli leader has spo­ken in the par­lia­ment of a Mus­lim coun­try, he said that Is­rael was “de­ter­mined to reach a two-state so­lu­tion”.

Mr Peres, who was greeted with full mil­i­tary hon­ours and hosted at the pres­i­den­tial palace, also ex­pressed his “grat­i­tude” to Turkey for pro­vid­ing a home to Jewish refugees af­ter the 1492 ex­pul­sion from Spain.

“Here,they­founda­home­oftol­er­ance where they could freely prac­tise their re­li­gion,” Mr Peres said in He­brew.

Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Ab­dul­lah Gul ar­ranged for Pales­tinian Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ab­bas to be on hand in Ankara at the same time, part of Turkey’s diplo- matic ef­fort to bridge the gap be­tween Is­rael and its Arab neigh­bours on the eve of the An­napo­lis con­fer­ence. Mr Peres praised Turkey’s role, while warn­ing against ex­pect­ing quick re­sults. “It takes time to make peace,’’ he said.

Mr Gul said he ex­pected Turkey to be in­vited to the con­fer­ence, adding that his re­cent talks with Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad left him the im­pres­sion that Da­m­as­cus was in­ter­ested in reach­ing an agree­ment with Is­rael. Mr Peres ap­peared more re­served. “He needs to take ac­tion that shows he is se­ri­ous and come to Jerusalem,’’ he said.

De­spite clear dif­fer­ences on re­gional is­sues such as Iran’s nu­clear cri­sis — with Mr Gul in­sist­ing that all coun­tries had the right to de­velop a nu­clear pro­gramme for en­ergy pur­poses — talks were friendly. The re­cent in­ci­dent in which Is­raeli jets raid­ing a Syr­ian tar­get tres­passed into Turk­ish airspace ap­peared to have been re­solved.

Last month, Prime Min­is­ter Ehud Olmert stressed there had been no in­ten­tion of vi­o­lat­ing Turkey’s sovereignty. Asked about this, Mr Gul said: “Mr Olmert apol­o­gised and said this was a mis­take. The mat­ter is closed.”

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