Israeli president says Syrian leader Assad must go

JERUSALEM, Israel – Israel's president has called on Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad to resign, directing his message to the Arab world in his first news conference for Arab media. Shimon Peres also voiced respect for Syrian demonstrators who he said "are fighting for peace and who want to live like human beings."

On the peace process, Peres said Israel is "closer than ever" to peace with the Palestinians and insisted gaps between the two sides could be bridged by September, when Palestinians say they will seek a vote on statehood at the UN.

Peace talks have been deadlocked since 2008 over issues like borders, Palestinian refugees and Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
Peres has hosted Arab journalists before, but Tuesday's event was his first official news conference aimed at many Arabic outlets.

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