Peres: We Are Not Against Unity if Hamas Accepts Quartet Conditions
Israeli President Shimon Peres said on Tuesday that the Jewish state is not opposed to the Palestinian Authority’s recent unity deal with Hamas as long as the terror group, which controls Gaza, accepts the conditions laid out by the Middle East peacemaking Quartet.
“We are not against unity if they accept the conditions necessary to be united (the conditions of the Quartet),” Peres said at a reception hosted at his residence in Jerusalem for Israel based members of the Diplomatic Corps. “I believe that diplomacy in an uncertain time can prepare a road that will make the process easier and the future more promising.”
Recognizing Israel is one of the key conditions laid out in 2003 by the Middle East Quartet, which includes the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and Russia. The other two main demands are a renunciation of violence and an acceptance of all prior agreements with Israel.
Hamas’ deputy leader Mussa Abu Marzuq said at a press conference on Saturday that the Islamic movement, which signed the unity deal with the PA last month, would never agree to recognize Israel. Marzuq explained, “Hamas rejects the Quartet’s conditions because it denies some of our people’s rights. We will always refuse any conditions that deny our Palestinian rights.”
Peres asked the ambassadors at his reception on Monday to pressure Hamas to accept the conditions set out by the Quartet. He started off by saying, “I know you care about peace as much as I do.”
“Gaza is today the greatest obstacle to an agreement,” Peres said. “Why do they need 10,000 missiles? You have to say to the authorities in Gaza, decide if you want peace and prosperity or not. You must say no-one will finance your missiles, your tunnels or your ideology.”
Also addressing the diplomats, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman backed Peres’ remarks adding that “any attempt to advance an agreement without an explicit recognition of the State of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish People by the Palestinians will be a non-starter… Israel seeks peace, Israel wants an agreement, but we will not be fools.”
Peres said the Jewish state should not lose hope and should continue negotiations and that while there may be “an interruption” in the talks, “it is not a stop.” Peres added that he thinks the dialogue between the two sides will resume because “none of us has a better alternative.”
“None of us can make peace without the other party. It’s normal that when you make peace you have differences and that the opening positions are not the same as the final ones.”