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December 8, 2013 12:34 pm

Israel’s Peres: Relations With the U.S. ‘Are Intact’

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avatar by Joshua Levitt

President Peres.

Israeli President Shimon Peres said that relations with the U.S. “are intact,” despite conflicts over how best to handle Iran’s nuclear program.

World powers recently inked a six months agreement with Iran as a “trial period” that even U.S. President Barack Obama, whose administration brokered the agreement, believes has only a 50-50 chance of success.

Speaking at the opening of the Globes 2013 Israel Business Conference, Peres said, “The problem is what will happen in the coming six months; it’s a trial period. President Obama said that for him also this is a trial and gave an estimate of 50-50 as to whether it will succeed. We have to concentrate all our efforts to make sure Iran doesn’t become a nuclear danger to the rest of the world.”

“Israelis are afraid, and the U.S. believes that this is the best option. I definitely believe that relations are intact. I agree that the best thing is to keep the arguments between us, and I believe that President Obama is a true friend of Israel,” he said.

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“In some wars Israel was alone, and with an arms embargo, we were truly alone. Today, everyone knows that the Ayatollahs’ regime with a nuclear weapon is a threat to the whole world. Russia and China don’t want Iran to have a nuclear bomb either.”

Asked by interviewer, Richard Quest of CNN, Peres said he would be open to meeting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani: “Why not? I don’t have enemies; it’s not a matter of a person but of a policy. The purpose is to convert enemies into friends.”

“If it was only him I’d take it with greater assurance but there are other structures, other people. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard, half army and half organization, spreads terror all over the world and I’m not so sure they support the president. We have to see the balance of the situation,” Peres said.

Asked about Israel’s ongoing relations with the Palestinian Authority, Peres said, “We’re still negotiating. If it was concluded we would have to negotiate. There are two major problems; Israel’s security after our experience when we left Gaza which made many Israelis reluctant to do likewise in the West Bank. On the other hand is the problem of our existence as a Jewish state, a state where the Jewish people are a majority. It’s not a matter of declarations; it’s a matter of numbers.”

Peres said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s proposals for Israel’s security in the Jordan Valley “are good, but I am not sure if they will be accepted by the parties.”

Asked whether it would be possible to reach an agreement with the Palestinians within the timetable set for it, Peres said, “Yes, it is possible. It’s complicated to negotiate, not only with the other side but also with your own people, to convince them that it’s a plan that will make them safe.”

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