Vice Premier Shimon Peres said Thursday morning in a Ynet interview that "we have to be careful that fire coming out of the mouth does not turn into fire directed at people. We have to maintain restraint while talking, but I don’t mean restraint in response. We have to analytically examine what can stop the Qassam fire and use those means."
Minister Peres, who has recently been rejecting Syrian President Bashar Assad's
call for peace talks, has not changed his way. He still believes in talks rather than in war, and believes that the Palestinian channel must be given a chance despite the chaos in the Palestinian Authority, the Qassam fire and the assumption that at the moment there is no visible way to start the diplomatic process.
He still believes that eventually economy will defeat war, and calm will reach the Middle East through private rather than governmental capital funds.
How do we stop the Qassam fire? It seems that the ceasefire is only being implemented by one side, the Israeli.
"First of all, we must remember that at the moment the situation in the Palestinian Authority is different. There is a Sunni-Shiite
struggle there, which Israel
should not get involved in at all. This is not our business.
"It’s true that the ongoing Qassam fire is or business, but we must hold back mainly in talks. At first we are talking about fire from the mouth which turns into fire directed at people. Everything we say might hit.
"On the operational side, however, Israel will analytically examine the means in its possession to stop the fire and will do what it takes, alongside a quick and efficient continued development of technology to stop the Qassam."
In light of the recent developments and the statements coming from Damascus, is Bashar Assad a partner?
"If he wants to be a partner, he should do what (former Egyptian President Anwar) Sadat, (Jordan's late King) Hussein and (former PA Chairman Yasser) Arafat did. If he does what they did, he will get what they got.
"The trouble is that he wants to negotiate with the Americans, not with us. We offered the Syrians peace four times, including withdrawing from the Golan Heights, and it didn’t happen four times. It's true that this was during the days of his father Hafez, but now he has to prove that this is what he wants. A statesman is examined according to his deeds, not according to his declarations.
"Young Assad makes different statements every day, and does something else. The question is if there is a real opportunity here or a 'Fata Morgana.' I don’t have the rool today to say that this is not an illusion. If this is really an opportunity, we must take advantage of it. If not, I don’t want to be there."
Which channel should Israel take? The Syrian? The Palestinian?
"I think that in the current reality, and in spire of the chaos in the Palestinian Authority, we have to take the Palestinian channel. If we take both channels, we may fail in both. We have to wait patiently until the problem between the factions in the PA is solved.
"Although Hamas is Sunni, it is still supported by the Shiites originating in Tehran. When the dispute there ends, we must get into the thick of things and progress in the dialogue with the Palestinians.
"On the Syrian channel, things seem impractical at the moment. It is the Syrians' duty to prove their intentions. Because I am a man of peace, I say that we must first and foremost complete the Palestinian issue. We must not open two fronts of negotiations, because we may fail here and here."
Is it also a dead end with the Palestinians?
"The correct road to peace is not through another attempt to choose between Islamic fundamentalism and Western democracy. This is clearly insolvable. What we must do is understand that the solution for peace is in the economic way. Governments are good for war, but for peace you need private companies, you need the economy. This will bring about peace and quiet."
"Now we have a real opportunity to do this, through the Valley of Peace Project. The Jordanian king, the Israeli prime minister and the PA chairman have all written letters saying they are willing to invest in this project, worth about USD 10 billion. From here we can take another step and another step toward peace, and through transferring water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea."