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Peres death unlikely to refocus peace bid

Published 04/10/2016

Although the death of Shimon Peres, the former Israeli prime minister and president, at the age of 93, is not a tragedy in the sense of a life lived to its fullest, it definitely is a tragedy for those brave voices who still champion the notion of a moral two-state solution to the seven-decade long Israel-Palestine conflict.

Peres was the last link to the founding generation of a traumatised post-Holocaust Israel and, alongside David Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir, ensured the survival of the Jewish state from Arab attack in its first decade.

Yet he never abandoned the belief that a peaceful co-existence with Israel's neighbours was attainable.

Over the following decades, he strove to implement this goal and was the driving force behind the Oslo Accords, which saw Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat set a timetable for complete withdrawal from Gaza and the West Bank. The failure of leadership to implement the accords was Peres' greatest heartbreak.

His determination to achieve peace was recognised by Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority, who publicly acknowledged his death, saying: "It's a sad day for the peace camp ..."

Peres' vision of co-existence seems unobtainable, given the polarised nature of these two camps.

Perhaps, though, his death might refocus people of conscience on peace. Sadly, I doubt it.

KEVIN MCCARTHY

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