Peres gushes, Livni guarded at UN interfaith summit

Thursday, November 13, 2008 |  Israel Today Staff

Israeli President Shimon Peres used his turn at the podium at the UN interfaith summit in New York on Wednesday to heap unrestricted praise on the gathering's organizer, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah.

Peres broke with precedent to address Abdullah directly from the podium, and later insisted that the fact the Saudi king had even remained in the room to listen to an Israeli speak meant peace must be just around the corner.

However, those would be the only words Peres got to share with Abdullah, as the Saudi king and most other Arab leaders very conspicuously avoided contact with the Israeli delegation.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, meanwhile, was far more guarded in her assessment of the proceedings, telling reporters that if the Arab and Muslims leaders were serious about peace with Israel they would have to go beyond flowery rhetoric in the halls of the UN.

Livni also took the opportunity to note that peace negotiations between herself and the Palestinians were progressing rapidly, primarily due to the fact that she is not allowing average Israelis access to the details of the talks.

Ahead of Israel's February general election, Livni is attempting to portray herself as the leader who can finally conclude a final status peace agreement with the Palestinians, while painting her opponent, Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu, as someone who would rather stubbornly hold on to Israel's biblical heartland than live at peace with his neighbors.

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