"This is what we were afraid of – that Peres would continue to push his political agenda as president," said MK Yitzhak Levy (National Union) Sunday, in response to the new president's inauguration speech.
"It is regrettable that on his very first day he chose to voice opinions that drive a wedge though the people instead of uniting them," he added.
President Shimon Peres spoke with the Associated Press earlier Sunday, and was quoted as saying "we have to get rid of the territories… I shall respect the minority, I shall not insult them…I changed my position. I didn't change my beliefs."
National Union-NRP Knesset Member Zvi Hendel slammed President Peres over his statement, saying
“even prior to entering the role of president he (Peres) attempted to tear the nation apart and is playing into the hands of his murdering friends in the Palestinian Liberation Organization.
“Peres better not think that the presidency grants him immunity,” added Hendel.
Peres at inauguration ceremony (Photo: AFP)
MK Yisrael Katz (Likud) expressed his regrets over Peres' "lack of restraint on this day of all days… I hope that as president, Peres would stay out of the political debate, which is the Knesset and the government's business."
"The cat is finally out the bag," said MK Yuli Edelstein (Likud). "Those who voted for Peres will soon find that his term as president may cause the presidential institution to sink to new lows of political scuffle."
"This is a critical time for this institution, a time in which there is very little faith in it. We should have chosen someone worthy to lead it – what a shame Peres isn't that someone."
Members of the Yesha Council criticized Peres as well, saying that “we wanted to remember his success in Dimona (site of nuclear reactor), not his failure in Oslo. It’s a shame that the president decided to open his first day with a remark that goes against the values of Zionism.”
But President Peres does not stand alone. MK Avshalom Vilan (Meretz-Yahad) said that "Peres only repeated what he's been consistently saying for years… if Israel truly wants to be a Jewish democratic State it must separate itself from the territories and the sooner the better."