Peres: There is no alterative to peace (YNetNews.Com -Yedioth Internet) Jon Feder, Attila Somfalvi Published: 04.26.12, 07:34)
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In special holiday interview, President Peres insists Palestinian
counterpart ´is most prominent Arab leader to speak against war, for
peace´; adds Israel ´can handle Iranian peril´
President Shimon Peres is not a fan of the narrative led by Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when it comes to Iran and the Holocaust –
to put it mildly.
The comparisons to 1939 and Hilter do not sit will with him, either.
Netanyahu´s Holocaust Day speech made the president uncomfortable and
those who spoke with him shortly afterwards said he was profoundly
unhappy with the prime minister´s rhetoric, which implied that the
nuclear Iran would undoubtedly spell a second Holocaust for the
"It´s not the same thing," Peres told Ynet in a special Independence
Day interview. "Holocaust is one thing and Iran is another. The
comparison is out of place. But I´m not a literary critic and the
prime minister expressed his opinion on the matter.
"Every person can judge this for himself. I believe we can handle the
Iranian threat. The United States leading and Europe joining (them) –
it´s not just lip service.
"They, like us, cannot afford to have a nuclear Iran and they want to
stop it. As for Hitler – the world was asleep then. This couldn’t
happen today – the world has woken up."
The president also voiced his objection to a possible solo military
strike by Israel. "Any military aspect is the Americans´ to have," he
stressed. "The world didn’t have a military contingency in Hitler´s
time and today it does.
"Israel can defend itself but we are not alone – and that´s a plus,
not a minus. I believe what (US President) Obama says. There is no
need for saber-rattling, but there is a need to impose sanctions and
political pressure. Obama is serious and I believe him – he speaks of
key US interests."
´Abbas a valid peace partner´
The president also rejects the premise – prevalent among the top
ministers and especially Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman – that
states that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is not a suitable
partner for either peace talks or a peace agreement.
He also dismissed claims suggesting that the negotiations have
essentially failed, and said that he met with Abbas – a meeting
Netanyahu knew of and was briefed about.
"I will not give up on this peace… I do what I can and despite the
mistakes made, there is no alterative to peace. There is a basic
truth that both people need and that is peace. I believe we have to
take initiative and I believe we can reason with Abu Mazen."
Peres believes that the current Palestinian leadership is the best
Israel can hope for. "Abu Mazen is the most prominent Arab leader to
speak out against war and for peace. So we must hold talks – direct
and covert – and get to the point. We can argue about the
prerequisites forever, but we have to talk.
"There is nothing that I´m saying here that I haven’t told the prime
minister. I´m a patient man and time is on our side. I remember
Israel back when there wasn’t one Arab who didn’t want to throw us
into the ocean. We shouldn’t give up."
Good relationship with PM
Turning his attention to the issue of Jonathan Pollard, the president
adamantly rejected the notion that he should refuse to accept the US
Presidential Medal of Freedom from Obama, over the latter´s refusal
to release the convicted spy.
Over 10,000 Israelis citizens, including artists, political figures
and academians have signed a petition urging Peres decline the honor.
"Will I be more suited to handle this issue if I refuse? I fail to
see the logic. Will the fight to free Pollard be better served by my
protest? I too grant some pardons, and some I refuse."
Since taking office, Peres has attracted criticism for failing to
publicly criticize the government or the prime minister. But
Netanyahu, he said, spends countless hours a month briefing him on
Peres, it seems, has been able to hold his tongue regardless of how
much he may disagree with Netanyahu. "I am not chairman of the
Opposition and I respect the nature of my office. I have to be a
"You can´t say that I keep all of my opinions to myself, but I do so
with decorum. I say things outright and I tell the public the truth.
But I don’t need to be hurtful about it. I hold nothing back."
Peres, who will soon celebrate his 90th birthday, seems in great
spirits and unfazed by the grueling pace of politics.
"There is one thing you have to forego – resting," he told
Ynet. "Resting is a waste of time. I get up every morning at 4 am, do
some calisthenics and I´m at the office by 8 am. I rest about one
hour a day and I work until 10-11 pm, sometimes even until
midnight." (Copyright 2012 © Yedioth Internet 04/26/12)
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