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Peres praises Palestinian leadership
Updated: 2005-03-10 21:33

Israeli Vice Premier Shimon Peres praised the new Palestinian leadership Thursday for opposing terrorism as the two sides try to preserve a fragile truce.

"Finally the Palestinians came to the conclusion that terror brings them more damage than hope," Peres said in an interview with The Associated Press. He was alluding to the truce announced last month by Israeli and Palestinian leaders to end four years of bloodshed.

Peres said that in the Middle East more is achieved with negotiations than with violence, citing Egypt as an example of a country with which Israel has engaged in both. Israel seized the Gaza Strip from Egypt in the 1967 Middle East war. The two countries signed a peace accord in 1979.

Peres was visiting Madrid to take part in an international conference on terrorism.

A suicide bombing Feb. 25 in Tel Aviv blamed on the militant group Islamic Jihad has threatened to undermine the Israeli-Palestinian truce. Relations are also tense because of an impasse over Israel's transfer of West Bank towns to Palestinian control.

Peres said Israel hopes to withdraw Jewish settlements from Gaza and part of the West Bank by the end of July and then move on to the so-called "road map" peace plan.

"I think both sides, the Palestinians and the Israelis, will like to continue this tranquility, and wind it up with a first serious step toward peace," said Peres. "There are still people skeptical, worried, but it's really an important atmosphere," he said.

Talking specifically about Palestinian suicide bombers, Perez said: "They don't respect the lives of others, nor they respect their own lives. They are not human beings, they are human bombs."

"They (terrorists) don't carry a message, they don't provide a hope. It will take time, it may be expensive, but they are doomed to disappear," Peres said.

On the issue of a redeployment of Syrian troops in Lebanon, Peres said he supported a full pullout.

"Occupation does not have a future. People are fighting for their independence and they will aim to live together in a land of integrity and peace," said Peres.

Peres also praised recent massive anti-Syria street protests in Beirut for being peaceful.

"What's interesting in all those demonstrations is that they're bloodless, people were not killed, fire was not used and the demonstration is an act of democracy."

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