September 1, 2010
Posted: 2003 GMT
Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel is highly optimistic about the outcome of the Washington summit, despite popular cynicism surrounding yet another attempt at Middle East peacemaking.
Wiesel, the 1986 recipient of the Peace Prize and author who has chronicled humanity's darker side, spoke about the U.S. effort to launch direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority on the sidelines of a conference he was attending in Jerusalem. Wiesel told CNN: "President Obama, the initiator of this noble endeavor, he would not have done it had there been no indication, the kind of indication from all parts, all segments of the equation that something is about to happen."
All the parties coming to Washington must see some light at the end of the tunnel to take this kind of gamble, he said, asking rhetorically: "Why meet, to have another failure at home and abroad in the world? It makes no sense."
Wiesel also believes that both sides are now in a state of war fatigue. "I have a feeling here everybody is tired... too much war, too much violence, too much suffering, too much pain, too much death, and therefore I think that this time we are on the right way," he said.
When CNN challenged his optimism by pointing out that the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip is being left out of the equation while peace talks resume, he seemed unfazed. "For the moment I don't think you deal with Gaza. Hamas is a terrorist organization and the whole civilized world refuses to deal with them, and rightly so. America, France, Israel, they don't deal with Hamas, but they can make peace with Abbas without Gaza. After all, the West Bank is not with Hamas, and they can make a deal with Abbas," he insisted.
Wiesel gained world recognition as an author who wrote about his experiences as a young man surviving Nazi concentration camps during World War II. He met President Obama when he was asked by the president to accompany him on a tour to the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany a day after President Obama gave his landmark speech to the Muslim world in Cairo on June 5, 2009. Later on, he became involved in controversy when he published an ad in prominent American newspapers supporting Israel's position on an undivided Jerusalem, citing its religious and historical significance. The status of Jerusalem is one of the biggest sticking points in efforts to forge a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
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