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Thursday, 15 November, 2001, 22:14 GMT
Israeli president's letter to Palestinians
Moshe Katsav
The Israeli president in a new peace drive
Palestinian radio reported on Thursday that it received a faxed message from Israeli President Moshe Katsav calling on the Palestinians to begin serious dialogue that will lead to real peace, security and coexistence.

Entitled "A Call to the Palestinians on the Advent of Ramadan", the message was written in Hebrew with an Arabic translation attached.

The radio said it was the first message by an Israeli president to an official Palestinian establishment since the Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian territories in 1994.

The message

Following is the text of the statement as communicated by the president's spokesperson and released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

"On the occasion of the commencement of the Ramadan fast, I am - on behalf of the Israeli people - happy to send heartfelt greetings and wishes for a blessed and festive holiday to all peace-loving Muslims in the Arab world, to all Muslims in Israel and to all Muslims in the Palestinian Authority.

We want peaceful coexistence. We want both of us to enjoy a quiet life of peace, freedom and prosperity.

Israeli President Moshe Katsav

"I would like to take this opportunity to appeal to our Palestinian neighbours, both the leadership and the public, to put out the fire so that we may begin a serious and basic dialogue that will lead us to genuine peace and security.

"We want peaceful coexistence. We want both of us to enjoy a quiet life of peace, freedom and prosperity.

"The leadership that you have chosen is our address for negotiations. We respect and esteem the Palestinian leadership.

"We respect and esteem the Islamic holy places; we will do our utmost to safeguard the sanctity of the Islamic holy places and will not allow anyone to even inflict even the slightest injury to them, especially the sacred mosques on the Temple Mount.

"Muslims will continue to enjoy complete freedom of worship; for us, this is a sacred principle.

"The Jewish people have suffered over the centuries and were unable to exercise freedom of worship; for this reason, we will not agree to any infringement on the right of others to worship freely.

"The way of bloodshed will lead us to disasters, destruction and ruin, and will bring us neither benefits nor hope.

"The time has come to put an end to suffering by halting the bloodshed and beginning responsible and honourable diplomatic negotiations that will lead to peace, stability, social welfare and prosperity for the peoples of the region and a promising future for the younger generation.

"I also believe that the God we all worship expects that our prayers for peace will be both sincere and put into practice."

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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