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Time running out for Mideast peace

20 June 2013, 11:00

Jerusalem - Time is running out for the Middle East peace process, which must move forward or face total failure, former British prime minister Tony Blair said on Wednesday.

"The window of opportunity will be open for only a short space of time," he said, speaking in Jerusalem at the 2013 Presidential Conference, hosted by Israeli President Shimon Peres.

"Let's hope that over the coming weeks a plan can be put in place in which politics, economics and security are aligned. With [US] Secretary [of State] John Kerry's fantastic energy and commitment, we're all working hard to accomplish this," Blair told delegates.

Kerry has visited the region four times since taking office in February in a bid to push Palestinian and Israeli leaders to return to talks, the latest round of which broke down shortly after they were launched in September 2010.

"But we should understand, the window of opportunity will be open for only a short space of time. We must go through it together. If not the window will close again and could even close forever," Blair warned.

"Time is not our friend. This is urgent. This is now. And it is a time for statesman, not politicians."

During the session, Peres presented former US president Bill Clinton with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Israel's highest honour, thanking him for his "immeasurable" contribution towards peace.

"Your work laid the foundations which will one day bring peace to our region - the two-states solution," he told him.

"You trail blazed the way to that desired destination. And although the work is not yet complete, the future will hang upon your immeasurable contribution."

In accepting the medal, Clinton said there was "no perfect answer" but urged the parties to continue the search for peace.

"The first step of building a new tomorrow is to get rid of the things that divide us, including seeing ourselves as victims," said Clinton.

"There are no final victories. There are no perfect warriors for peace. There are no flawless leaders. There is no perfect answer to any of this."



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