Handshake to further peace talks: John Kerry oversees breakthrough handshake between Shimon Peres and Mahmoud Abbas

US Secretary of State's push for renewed peace talks between Israel and Palestine leads to promising moment at World Economic Forum

Jerusalem

While there appears so far to be little substantial progress in US Secretary of State John Kerry's push for renewed peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians, there was at least a breakthrough with a handshake between Shimon Peres and Mahmoud Abbas.

The two sides have not met for direct talks since 2010, but both the Israelis and the Palestinians have expressed hope that Mr Kerry's latest initiative - which has seen America's leading diplomat visit the region four times in the last two months - will lead to fresh peace talks, and ultimately a lasting settlement.

The handshake took place at the World Economic Forum meeting in Jordan and followed conciliatory speeches by the two men. Mr Peres, the Israeli president, in his speech, said:  “President Abbas, you are our partner and we are yours. You share our hopes and efforts for peace, and we share yours. We can and should make the breakthrough. We should not permit the hurdles to overcome us. History will judge us not by the process of negotiations but by its outcome. The today obstacles will pale in the light of peace.”

It came as Mr Kerry shed some light on what his peace plan might entail, as he unveiled a $4bn investment plan for the Palestinian economy. The initiative, which will be led by the former Prime Minister Tony Blair, will bring together private sector investors. Mr Kerry said he believed that the Palestinian economy could grow by 50 per cent in three years - a growth rate that would outstrip even the world's most buoyant economies.

That matched the mood of the event, which earlier in the day, saw Mr Peres tell reporters, “It's time for peace. It shouldn't be so complicated…. I do believe it is a real possibility.”

Those words were attacked by several right-wing politicians in Israel. The country's Tourism Minister, Uzi Landau, invoked Auschwitz to dismiss the idea that any new talks would be based on 1967 borders. Quoting Abba Eban, an Israeli foreign minister who served in the late 1960s, Mr Landau said: “Eban once said that the 1967 border is the border of Auschwitz. What country would like to achieve borders which make it impossible to defend itself?”

Another cabinet minister, Yuval Steinitz, criticized Mr Peres saying the president does not have the authority to express opinions on the objectives of the peace process.

“I didn't know Peres aspired to be the government's spokesman,” he said sarcastically before the weekly Israeli cabinet meeting. “Any statement on the eve of negotiations of this sort - how shall we put this gently? - is unhelpful.”

Mr Abbas - the president of the Palestinian Authority - said that any deal must be lasting and that any offer of temporary borders would be insufficient. Temporary borders, “will not end the conflict,” he said. “They will prolong it.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Supporting role: at the Supreme Court, Rhodes was accompanied by a famous friend, the actor Benedict Cumberbatch
booksPianist James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to stop the injunction of his memoirs
Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan
filmDheepan, film review
Sport
Steven Gerrard scores for Liverpool
sport
News
peopleComedian star of Ed Sullivan Show was mother to Ben Stiller
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?