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Israel, Palestinians Pledge New Peace Efforts


A week before the Bush administration tries to revive stalled Middle East peace talks, Israeli and Palestinian politicians pledged new efforts Thursday to secure a breakthrough during a high-level conference in Davos, Switzerland. From Paris, Lisa Bryant has more on their remarks made at the World Economic Forum.

Israel Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni made an emotional appeal for Israel and Palestinians to live side by side, and pledged her government would work with Palestinian moderates.

But in an obvious reference to Hamas, the hard-line political faction that controls the Palestinian government, she warned Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas against working with extremists. She also held firm to the notion of separate Israeli and Palestinian states.

"The establishment of a Palestinian state as a homeland for the Palestinians is the answer, the national answer to the Palestinians wherever they are," she said. "Those who live in the territories and those who live outside of the territories. And including the refugees."

Livni's remarks came during a special panel on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the World Economic Forum, a four-day meeting of politicians and business leaders that takes place annually at the Swiss resort of Davos.

Meanwhile, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators meeting separately in Davos Thursday called for direct peace talks and said they wanted to reach a final agreement within a two-year time frame.

Israeli and Palestinian leaders are scheduled to meet in Washington next week with representatives of the so-called Middle East quartet -- the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations.

Speaking at the Davos forum, Abbas urged the two sides to follow an already-established road map, or blueprint for peace in the Middle East.

"We have the road map, a road map that includes the Arab initiative as well as President Bush's vision regarding the two-state solution," he said. "What is required now, in all honesty, is for us to trace the beginning and the end of this peace process. The map is there, we have all agreed to it. So let us sit down and seek to implement this plan."

But implementing the road map will not be so simple. Palestinians and Israelis are at odds over a number of key issues, including the status of Palestinian refugees. The Palestinian territories are in turmoil, and the Hamas-controlled Palestinian government so far rejects a peace deal with Israel. Meanwhile Livni's own government is weak and split by internal rivalry.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict and other Middle East problems, along with alarming climate changes, top the agenda at this year's Davos conference.

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