Talking to Ynet Thursday night, Minister Shimon Peres commented that the Knesset is “as split as it was before. Therefore, the most proper thing to do now is unite Kadima and Labor.”
Peres, formerly a Labor icon and now one of Kadima’s top figures, is convinced that such unity could rescue Israeli politics and stabilize the Knesset. Peres, however, made no comment about his rival Labor leader Amir Peretz.
Speaking to Ynet shortly before being sworn in as a minister in the 31st cabinet Thursday, Peres explained how he interprets the proposal: “What are the differences today between Labor and Kadima? Nothing. In the previous government there was a prominent different between the two large parties because of (Likud Chairman) Benjamin Netanyahu, whose economic policy neither Olmert nor Ariel Sharon liked, and certainly I didn’t either. But now? There is no difference. The right thing is for the two parties to unite.”
Does someone holding a portfolio and with experience such as Peres’ really believe that such a unification of two large parties is possible?
“In my assessment it won’t happen,” he admits, but repeats, “there are no differences today between the two parties.”
The conversation with Peres also touched on the hot security subjects at hand. Regarding the Iran crisis, Peres said: “In the end there will be no choice but war with Iran,” referring to the international military option against Iran’s nuclear program, not a war between Israel and Iran.
'Pass evacuation-compensation law ASAP'
As for the convergence plan, Peres said that one of the most important things Prime Minister Ehud Olmert needed to do as soon as possible was propose a evacuation-compensation law to the Knesset to enable Israelis living in West Bank settlements leave in the near future already and be compensated for their assets.
“This is one of the most important things that needs to be done now,” Peres stressed.
He added that there is a need to establish dialogue with the Palestinians, because the international community may support another withdrawal from Judea and Samaria, but it would not support the fact that the withdrawal would set Israel’s permanent borders.
Peres estimated that the political process would take Israel roughly two years, until US President George W. Bush leaves the White House after the next elections there.
Peres was not optimistic about the possibility that the world would rally to help Israel financially to carry out the withdrawal.
“They won’t pay a cent. Bush has his own problems. He won’t tangle himself up in this now,” he said.