The President of Israel, Shimon Peres, pushing 90, celebrates his longevity with a birthday bash this week that includes thousands of invited guests and hundreds of reporters.
It behooves the journalists who cover the Peres birthday event to hold Peres accountable for policies that Peres stands for. In the media, longevity allows for long memories.
1. In 1981, Peres opposed and tried to interfere with Menachem Begin’s 1981 decision to bomb Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi nuclear reactor. Does Peres have any regrets for his opposition to the destruction of that nuclear reactor?
2. Peres is proud of the Oslo peace accords which he helped facilitate between Israel and the PLO on the White House lawn on September 13, 1993. However, on October 7, 1993, the left wing newspaper Al HaMishmar revealed that the PLO would not ratify that accord, and, indeed, the PLO has never ratified that accord. Instead of heeding the Al HaMishmar report, Peres, then Israel’s foreign minister, dispatched his Deputy Minister, Yossi Beilin, to fly to Tunis to thank Arafat for ratifying the Oslo accord, which Arafat and the PLO never did. Why did Peres promote an unratified accord?
3. In 1994, Rabin, Peres, and Arafat made an agreement that Arafat’s armed forces would comprise no more than 9,000 inductees, and that any Palestinian under arms would first have to be vetted by Israeli intelligence to ensure that he did not have a background in terror activity. Yet as early as December 1993, it was discovered that the PA had drafted two Arab residents from the Arab village of Tequa who had murdered the curator of the Herodian, David Rosenfeld, in 1982. In December, 1995, Arafat announced that his commanders for Ramallah and Nablus were men who planted bombs in Jerusalem’s Zion Square on July 5, 1975, killing thirteen people. The PA armed forces counted as many as 19,000 under arms by 1995 and now comprise a least 30,000. Since 1995, the IDF acknowledges that it no longer knows who has been recruited into the PA security force. Can Peres answer the question as to whether the PA armed forces now include volatile terrorists within its ranks?
4. Throughout 1994 and 1995, when private agencies produced videos of Arafat’s speeches where Arafat expressed support for Jihad to liberate Palestine, Peres implored Israeli TV not to air Arafat’s speeches in the Arabic language. Peres also asked the US Congress not to view the videos of what Arafat was saying in Arabic? Does Peres express regret for trying to obfuscate Arafat’s message in the Arabic language?
5. In December 1994, when Peres and Rabin conducted a briefing for the media in Oslo before they both received the Nobel Peace Prize together with Arafat, I asked them if Arafat had fulfilled his commitment to crush Hamas. Both Rabin and Peres indicated that he would do so. A few hours later, when I asked Arafat the same question, as to whether the PLO leader would crush Hamas, Arafat’s response was clear: “Hamas are my brothers. I will handle them in my way.” And Arafat did handle Hamas – by bringing them into his new regime, as full coalition partners. In May, 1995, Arafat’ security forces announced that they would provide Hamas with arms. In December, 1995, Arafat invited Hamas to join his provisional regime. In 1996, Arafat appointed Hamas officials to run the religious departments and schools under his authority. By fall 2001, the IDF confirmed that Islamic terror groups train and operate in the full view of the Palestinian Authority security services, and that the Islamic terrorists get a clear message that their activity operates with the full blessing of Arafat’s regime. The promise of the Oslo process was that Arafat would crush Hamas, not co-opt Hamas. Does Peres feel today that Arafat betrayed him?
6. Norwegian statesmen Kare Kristiansen resigned from the Nobel Prize committee because of the Nobel Prize bestowed upon Arafat. The same Kare Kristiansen told the Norwegian media that Peres had promised financial remuneration to fellow Nobel Prize Committee member Terje Larsen in order to ensure that he would share the Nobel Peace Prize with the late Prime Minister Rabin. In 2002, I interviewed Mr. Kristiansen and he explicitly affirmed that he had witnessed the deal made between Peres and Larsen which assured Larsen that he would be “well rewarded for his efforts.” How does Peres respond to the allegation that he paid good money for the Nobel Peace Prize?
7. The Palestine National Council, meeting in April 1996, did not vote to nullify the PLO charter which calls for the destruction of Israel. However, Peres proclaimed that Arafat did fulfill his promise to nullify/amend the PLO charter. It turned out that the resolution that Arafat had told Peres that they would pass was not even brought up for a vote. What is Peres’s current perspective of the PLO charter, which was never changed?
8. In March 2007, when a new “Palestinian unity government” was formed to include Hamas and the Fatah in a coalition government, Peres declared that “only with economics can we make peace.” Peres went on to say that if members of terrorist groups perceive economic incentives, they will cease to be terrorists. Does Peres truly believe that a terrorist organization which acts upon a deep rooted ideology can be enticed by a good business opportunity to abandon the path of terror?
9. Peres repeats over and over that the “gap between Israel and the PA is very small,” while consistently describing Abbas as “Israel’s hope for peace.” However, Peres refuses to comment on the war curriculum that Abbas and the PA ministry of education have introduced in the PA. Peres consistently refuses to say if he has even reviewed the new PA school books, which have introduced a curriculum of war for the next generation of Palestinian Arab school children. On March 1, 2000, Peres addressed an international colloquium for the Jewish media, where Peres announced that the PA had adopted a PA school curriculum for peace. When I pointed out to Peres that the curriculum that he had quoted from had been vetoed by the PA, Peres moved away from the microphone and said “I know.” The Israeli intelligence report on PA school books now being used in PA schools, prepared by Dr. Noah Meritor, is accessible at here.
10. Before the Gaza retreat, Peres, then deputy Prime Minister, announced on July 7th, 2005 that the American government had allocated $2 billion to cover the costs of disengagement. That assurance was quoted by the mainstream Israeli media for months to come. However, on July 12th, 2005, the spokesman for the US treasury department told Israel’s leading business newspaper, GLOBES, that the US was not giving one penny for the Disengagement Policy. Where did Peres get the idea that the US would fund the Israeli retreat from Gaza?
11. Before Israel’s 2005 retreat from Gaza, Shimon Peres accused southern Israelis of “stoking hysteria” about the rockets and asked “What’s the big deal?“, while calling the kassam missile harmless. “Kassam Shmassam”, said Peres. Since the southern region of Israel has suffered 29,000 aerial attacks from Gaza and 49 deaths over the past ten years, what is Peres’s perspective on the assurances that he gave the people of Southern Israel before Israel withdrew its civilians, soldiers, and bases from Gaza?
12. In 2011, Shimon Peres dispatched a letter of praise to J Street, one day after J-Street called on the US to support the PLO resolution at the UN Security Council calling for the halt of settlement construction, including east Jerusalem, which the Obama administration vetoed after all other permanent members voted in favor.
Does Peres have any second thoughts about sending such a letter of support to J Street?
13. On January 4, 2013, Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Palestinian Authority, delivered a new year’s message in which he lauded Adolf Hitler’s Arab ally, Haj Amin Al Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem, as someone whose legacy should be emulated” by the Palestinian people, Since Israel’s President Shimon Peres never stops in his adulations of Abbas, Peres was asked if he would condemn Abbas’s praise of the Mufti, yet Peres refused comment on Abbas’s praise of the Mufti. Why would Peres not condemn Abbas’s praise of the Mufti?
14. Peres continually endorses an independent Palestinian state under the leadership of Abbas, as a Palestinian state that would coexist as a peaceful neighbor with Israel. Yet UNRWA remains intact, maintaining 5 million Arab refugees and their descendants in “temporary” refugee camps, under the premise and promise of the right of return to Arab villages that no longer exist within Israel. Why does Peres not support a change in the UNRWA mandate, which contradicts his vision of a “two state solution”?