Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Peres Stirs Passions With Optimistic Take on PA’s Abbas

December 31, 2012 9:32 pm 1 comment

Israeli President Shimon Peres greets representatives of the Israeli Christian communities at a ceremony held at the President's house in Jerusalem in honor of the leaders of the different Christian communities in Israel on Dec. 31, 2012. Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

Israeli President Shimon Peres ignited a controversy by expressing optimism about the ability of Israel to reach a peace agreement with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas.

On Sunday, Peres made his statements about Abbas while addressing an event at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem that was attended by 160 Israeli ambassadors and diplomatic representatives from around the world.

“I have known Abu Mazen [Abbas] for 30 years and no one will change my opinion about him, even if they say that I can’t express this opinion because I am president,” Peres said. “The president should be allowed to evaluate people according to his experience. [Abbas] is a man with whom we can reach an agreement.”

Coalition Chairman Zeev Elkin (Likud) harshly criticized Peres on Monday.

“You can easily dig through the archives and find that Peres made the same statements about Yasser Arafat,” Elkin told the Kol Berama radio station.

Elkin said that the job of the president is to appear impartial.

“A few weeks before an election, [Peres] entered into the heart of the ideological political debate in Israel, saying very sharp things and taking a side,” Elkin said, adding that Peres had harmed the prestige of the presidency.

Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan, head of the Likud party’s election campaign, said “It is truly unfortunate that the president would choose to express his personal political opinions, which are so disconnected from the Israeli public’s with respect to Abu Mazen, a denier of peace.”

In contrast to the Likud party’s strong response, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended Peres at a dedication ceremony for a new train station in Beit Shean on Sunday evening.

“I respect the president and I appreciate him,” Netanyahu said. “We meet often, including on Fridays. There are a range of opinions, and we exchange our opinions on many relevant current issues. This is how it has always been and this is how it will continue to be.”

The Prime Minister’s Office also issued an official statement Sunday night, saying the prime minister is “aware that the president has a desire to express his opinions on political issues and is not surprised by them.”

“But the prime minister believes that the president, especially just before elections, is not supposed to say such things,” the statement added.

Vice Prime Minister Moshe (Bogie) Ya’alon (Likud) said: “The president does not need to get into political issues, thus I don’t want to have to debate with him over politics. But I can already see other parties taking advantage of his sentiments, of course to attack us, as they often do in the international arena. The prime minister has tried from the outset of his government to get a diplomatic process moving; he was even ready to do a 10-month settlement freeze. But we are not ready to kowtow to Palestinian demands which they call ‘preconditions.’ From this perspective, I think we proved to have a thoughtful, responsible and uncompromising policy with respect to the Palestinians. Unfortunately, they are manipulating the Israeli public.”

Peres clarified that he doesn’t agree with Abbas’s every word and every action, but he also said: “I know the reality that Abu Mazen is the only Arab leader who got up and publicly said that he supports peace and opposes terror. Abu Mazen’s actions to prevent terror are brave to the extent of endangering his own life. Put yourselves in his shoes; you will discover that his recognition of a solution to the right of return and the fact that he will not return to Safed, the city he was born in, were important and brave statements. There is little time. In terms of likelihood, this is the process that we can carry out today.”

Peres added: “We need to directly say that anyone who doesn’t want a solution involving two states for two peoples must offer an alternative solution. What can happen instead? What will Israel’s future be? Otherwise, the reality will determine the solution, instead of us. A binational state endangers Zionism, Judaism and democracy in the State of Israel. I would like to live together as twins, but in such a small land deeply rooted in hatred, suspicion and cultural gaps it is impossible.”

Regarding Israel’s status in the world, Peres said: “Our diplomatic goal has always been to recruit friends and not more enemies. My life experiences have taught me that diplomacy is an art and that it is possible. We must shift away from the militant approach to the approach of moderate dialogue. What appears to be impossible will be possible if we act with intelligence.”

Left-leaning parties expressed their support for Peres’s sentiments, and used the comment as a platform for criticism of the Likud.

“The Likud lashing out at the president, one of the symbols of the State of Israel, is aggressive and despicable,” said Labor Chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich. “Even under pressure, following a decline in the polls, does not give the Likud the legitimacy to damage the presidency.”

In response to Likud’s claims that Peres’s comments encourage international condemnation, Yachimovich said, “It is a contemptible statement. Peres stops attacks on Israel with his own person and he is our best ambassador.”

Labor MK Isaac (Buji) Herzog also supported Peres. “President Peres decisively and clearly expressed the need for diplomatic action, rather than declarations and words,” he said. “The Netanyahu-Lieberman government has brought us to new heights of international isolation and stagnation that threatens the future of Israel as a state for the Jewish people.”

Hatnuah Chairwoman Tzipi Livni said Peres “acted with appropriate responsibility and told the public the truth about Israel’s situation and its position.”

“This is how anyone who cares for Israel, certainly the president, should act,” Livni said.

1 Comment

  • These are textbook responses totally predictable and probably of value in a political science classroom or on critical thinking.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Writer of Popular Kids Series to Premiere Autobiographical Solo Show ‘Not That Jewish’

    Writer of Popular Kids Series to Premiere Autobiographical Solo Show ‘Not That Jewish’

    The writer of a popular children’s television series will premiere an off-Broadway solo show called “Not That Jewish,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. Written and performed by Monica Piper — the Emmy Award-winning showrunner of Nickelodeon’s “Rugrats” — the show is described as “the autobiographical telling of a Jew…’ish’ girl’s life.” “Not That Jewish” explores Piper’s Bronx upbringing in a show-business family, her comedy-club debut and her “almost” night with former Yankees legend Mickey Mantle. “Audiences can expect to leave laughed-out, a little teary-eyed and […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Scottish Soccer Team Will Fly to Israel on Private Jet Used by Madonna

    Scottish Soccer Team Will Fly to Israel on Private Jet Used by Madonna

    Scotland’s Celtic soccer club will fly to Israel with the same private jet Madonna used while on tour, The Scotsman reported on Monday. According to the report, the team is heading for the Jewish state to compete against Israel’s Hapoel Be’er Sheva on Tuesday night, and will be transported in the customized, luxurious Boeing 757-200 that the pop icon used in New Zealand for her six-month Rebel Heart tour, which wrapped up in March. The plane is on loan from Greece-based GainJet Aviation and can accommodate 62 passengers. The […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Revealed: Actor Jonah Hill Officiated at Wedding of Fellow Jewish Star, Singer Adam Levine

    Revealed: Actor Jonah Hill Officiated at Wedding of Fellow Jewish Star, Singer Adam Levine

    Jewish actor Jonah Hill revealed on Wednesday morning that he had officiated the wedding of good friend and Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine. The “War Dogs” actor, 32, was a guest on Sirius XM’s The Howard Stern Show when the conversation turned to Levine’s July 2014 wedding to Victoria’s Secret model Behati Prinsloo. Hill said that after he was asked to officiate the nuptials, he started getting worried about the type of speech he was going to deliver. “I’m writing all these things, and then I […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Music Jewish Indie Rocker Dedicates New ‘Refugee’ Track to Grandfather Who Fled Nazi Persecution

    Jewish Indie Rocker Dedicates New ‘Refugee’ Track to Grandfather Who Fled Nazi Persecution

    Jewish indie singer Ezra Furman released a song on Wednesday that he said was dedicated to his grandfather, who escaped Nazi persecution. Furman told the website Consequence of Sound that the new track, called “The Refugee,” is his “first song entirely concerned with my Jewish background and present, a song dedicated to my grandfather who fled the Nazis, as well as to all of the refugees desperate for a home today.” He added, “May all the wanderers find the homes they seek, and […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Uncanny Toy Replica of Israeli ‘Wonder Woman’ Gal Gadot Auctioning on eBay for Over $1,600

    Uncanny Toy Replica of Israeli ‘Wonder Woman’ Gal Gadot Auctioning on eBay for Over $1,600

    An artist is auctioning on eBay a Wonder Woman doll he purchased and repainted to create an uncanny replica of Israeli actress Gal Gadot, who will play the superhero in an upcoming 2017 spin-off film. Noel Cruz purchased a 19-inch action figure of the Batman v Superman star and replaced its plastic hair with a new wig, and added a material belt and Princess Diana’s lasso, according to the blog Io9, which first reported on Cruz’s work. He then painted the doll to make it look like the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture British Jewish Star Daniel Radcliffe Hopes New Movie About Neo-Nazis Will Spark Dialogue to Defeat Antisemitic Rhetoric

    British Jewish Star Daniel Radcliffe Hopes New Movie About Neo-Nazis Will Spark Dialogue to Defeat Antisemitic Rhetoric

    Racist and antisemitic rhetoric supported by white supremacists can be defeated by opening channels for meaningful dialogue, British-Jewish actor Daniel Radcliffe said, ahead of the release of his new film, in which he plays an undercover FBI agent infiltrating a neo-Nazi group. “[White supremacist ideologies] have more power the less we talk about them. So hopefully this does start a kind of conversation, which would be a tiny part of a much larger conversation that needs to happen,” the actor, 27, told The […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas Reveals She Can Read, Speak Hebrew

    Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas Reveals She Can Read, Speak Hebrew

    Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas knows how to read and speak “a little” Hebrew, she revealed in the Aug. 15 issue of Us Weekly. The 20-year-old gymnast, who told the magazine that her favorite book is the Bible, was featured in a spread about the USA gymnastics team — which was awarded the gold medal in the women’s all-around finals at the Olympics in Rio on Aug. 9. In her 2012 memoir, In Grace, Gold, and Glory: My Leap of Faith, Douglas wrote that her […]

    Read more →
  • Features Ben-Gurion University Institute Tackles Water Shortages, Hygiene in Developing Countries

    Ben-Gurion University Institute Tackles Water Shortages, Hygiene in Developing Countries

    JNS.org – Israeli water experts believe that by 2050, almost half of the world’s population will live in countries with a chronic water shortage. What’s causing the shortfall is population growth, which leads to a greater demand for food, increased pollution and climate instability, according to Prof. Noam Weisbrod, director of the Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research (ZIWR) in the Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert Research at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. In Israel’s Negev Desert, which has long been plagued […]

    Read more →