JERUSALEM: President Shimon Peres on Monday urged Israel's hawkish government to relaunch peace negotiations with the Palestinians or risk further international criticism and isolation.
The cabinet led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces two choices, the Jewish state's elder statesman and Nobel peace laureate told the opening winter session of parliament, the Knesset.
"To be alone, isolated, and solely responsible for all the (occupied) territories while facing hostility from Palestinians and Arab states, as well as increasing criticism from many other countries. This risks a de facto single state with two nations.
"Or we can continue to negotiate with the Palestinian Authority until we find an acceptable solution," he said.
"I say to the government and Knesset, here and now, don't slow down the negotiations -- look for every break, try every option in order to put an end to more than 100 years of quarrel and bloodshed.
"Enough with the process, the time has come to reach final conclusions. We cannot miss this opportunity," he said.
"If we move forwards with peace and make peace with the Palestinians, and if we start negotiations with Syria and Lebanon, we will remove the main pretext for the Iranian madness -- against us and against the other residents of this region."
Netanyahu was due to address the Knesset session immediately after Peres.
The US administration has been pushing the Israelis and Palestinians to agree to resume peace talks that were relaunched in November 2007 but suspended after Israel launched a war on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip on December 27.