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...

  • Features As Berlin Prices Rise, Israelis Turn East for German Real-Estate Bargains

    As Berlin Prices Rise, Israelis Turn East for German Real-Estate Bargains

    JNS.org – Sonnenallee, a street in Berlin’s Neukölln district, looks like it comes straight out of an Arab city — so much so that it goes by the nickname “Gaza Strip.” Kebab and bakery shops are advertised in Arabic; men sit in men-only coffee shops; and bridal shop windows showcase glittery, not-so-stylish gowns. But take a random turn, and you’ll find a swath of bars, burger joints, and Indian restaurants where hip Berliners announce that they have arrived to urban coolness. […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israeli Actress Gal Gadot Slays in ‘Wonder Woman’ Trailer (VIDEO)

    Israeli Actress Gal Gadot Slays in ‘Wonder Woman’ Trailer (VIDEO)

    Israeli actress Gal Gadot engages in fierce action sequences in the new Wonder Woman trailer, which Warner Bros. premiered during the San Diego Comic-Con on Saturday. The nearly 3-minute trailer, the first to debut for the superhero film, shows scenes of Diana, princess of the Amazons, fighting alongside men in the battle against the world’s toughest enemies. The first shot of the video shows Wonder Woman discovering a man, Steve Trevor (played by actor Chris Pine), washed ashore. The clip then takes viewers to the all-female island where Wonder Woman was born. […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture A Theatrical Look at Diplomacy and the Oslo Accords (REVIEW)

    A Theatrical Look at Diplomacy and the Oslo Accords (REVIEW)

    Is diplomacy worthwhile, even if the end result isn’t what we hoped for? That is the question, among many others, posed by the new play Oslo, by J.T. Rogers. Making its New York debut at Lincoln Center, the play examines the secret diplomatic process that led to the historic 1993 peace accords. The character of Shimon Peres makes an appearance onstage — and he, along with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, tower over the proceedings. But they mainly do so in absentia. Instead, […]

    Read more →
  • Spirituality/Tradition Sports Israeli Trailblazer Dean Kremer Brings Jewish Values to Nascent Pro Baseball Career

    Israeli Trailblazer Dean Kremer Brings Jewish Values to Nascent Pro Baseball Career

    JNS.org – Other than being part of the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, Sandy Koufax and Dean Kremer have something else in common: a respect for Jewish tradition. Koufax — who was recently ranked by ESPN as the best left-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball (MLB) history — decided not to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series because the game fell on Yom Kippur. “I would do the same,” Kremer said in an interview. Last month, the 20-year-old Kremer became […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Lead Guitarist of British Rock Band Queen Asks Adam Lambert to Sing in Hebrew During Upcoming Israel Concert

    Lead Guitarist of British Rock Band Queen Asks Adam Lambert to Sing in Hebrew During Upcoming Israel Concert

    The famed lead guitarist of British rock band Queen, Brian May, encouraged Jewish singer-songwriter Adam Lambert to perform in Hebrew during their upcoming joint concert in Israel, an entertainment industry advocacy organization reported on Tuesday. During a recent interview with Israeli television personality Assi Azar, May was played a 2005 video of Lambert singing the popular song Shir L’Shalom, (Song for Peace). May was so impressed by Lambert’s singing of the Hebrew track that he told the American singer, “We have to do that. Let’s […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Kenyan Marathoner to Compete for Israel in Rio Olympics

    Kenyan Marathoner to Compete for Israel in Rio Olympics

    JNS.org – Kenyan-born marathoner Lonah Chemtai is expected to compete for Israel at the Olympics Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil next month after gaining a last minute approval. “I am very proud [to represent Israel] and I hope to achieve a new personal best time,” Chemtai told Reuters. Chemtai, who grew up a rural village in western Kenya, first came to Israel in 2009 to care of the children of her country’s ambassador to Israel. The 27-year-old runner recently gained […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity Will Laughs Lead to Love on Show About Orthodox Dating?

    Will Laughs Lead to Love on Show About Orthodox Dating?

    To date or not to date? That is not the question for most Modern Orthodox singles in New York. The question is when will they find their future spouses, and when will their families stop nagging them about having babies? Inspired by the success of the Israeli show “Srugim,” Leah Gottfried, 25, decided she would create and star in her own show, “Soon By You.” “Dating is so serious already,” Gottfried said. “We wanted to take a lighter approach and laugh at the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israeli Actress Says Playing Muslim Character in ‘Tyrant’ Has Made Her More ‘Hopeful, Humble’

    Israeli Actress Says Playing Muslim Character in ‘Tyrant’ Has Made Her More ‘Hopeful, Humble’

    Israeli actress Moran Atias said that playing a Muslim woman in the hit FX series Tyrant has changed her outlook. “Educating myself about a different culture has made me more hopeful and humble, that we’re all the same,” the Jewish actress, 35, said during an interview with AOL Build. Atias plays Leila Al-Fayeed, the strong and politically minded wife of the president of Abbudin, a fictional Middle Eastern country run by a dictatorial family. The Israeli-born former model, who earned the title of Miss Globe International […]

    Read more →