Two leading players in the Middle East – Israeli Labor Party leader and former Prime Minister Shimon Peres and the PLO’s foreign minister, Farouk Qaddoumi – although expressing great differences, expressed optimism in interviews with Kathimerini yesterday that current efforts to achieve peace could succeed. «The Intifada has changed the scene over the past three years,» Qaddoumi said. Prime Minister Ariel «Sharon promised (the Israelis) security but hasn’t managed to provide it.» Peres said that if the Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas (or Abu Mazen), could be given encouragement, it would change things. «If Abu Mazen can show the Palestinians something tangible – the release of prisoners, demolition of settlements – that will change matters,» he said. Peres and Qaddoumi were in Greece for the International Union of Socialist Youth gathering at Kammena Vourla.