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Ben-Ami Calls on Palestinians to Make Peace in UN Address
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Sept.18 2000

Minister of Foreign Affairs Shlomo Ben-Ami called on the Palestinians to bring the Israeli-Arab conflict to an end in his address to the UN General Assembly today, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Ben-Ami said that "Israel is determined to pursue peace and take the calculated risks attached to it." He added that "the process itself is not sacred, the real goal is peace." Regarding the Palestinian refugees, Ben-Ami said that they were victims of war and that "it is a travesty of historical truth to present the Palestinian refugee problem as the result of mass expulsion. It is a ridiculous concept to think that it is possible to establish a state in order to return the refugees to another neighboring state."

Concerning Jerusalem, Ben-Ami told the United Nations that "just as we do not question the sincerity of the sentiments of others toward their holy sites in Jerusalem, we expect that others will not question the Jewish people's deep, awesome attachment to Jerusalem and its holy sites from which we will never again be parted." He added that "the Jewish people have no quarrel with Islam" and that throughout its history Israel has been committed to freedom of religion and access with respect to holy areas under its control.

Ben-Ami also discussed Prime Minister Ehud Barak's role in the peace process and said that no prime minister before him, and probably no prime minister after him, would "touch the outer limits of what is possible for us as Israelis and Jews without compromising that which is essential and important to us." Ben-Ami is scheduled to depart for Paris today for talks on the peace process with French President Jacques Chirac and will arrive in Israel on Tuesday evening.

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