On a Friday visit to the Arab-Israeli village of Kfar Kassem, President Shimon Peres said that “there will be no peace talks with the Palestinians until Qassam attacks on Israel cease.”
Referring to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, Peres said: “Once the incessant Qassam attacks stop, we might be inclined to negotiate with him.”
In keeping with the political line delineated by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Peres reiterated that “negotiations with Hamas will only take place once they meet the three conditions set by the Quartet (UN, Britain, Russia and the US): That is cessation of Qassam fire, official recognition of Israel’s right to exist, and abiding by existing peace accords.”
Israel’s president furthermore noted that: “All Middle-Eastern countries want peace. No one wants Iranian hegemony in the region.”
Referencing the Gaza pullout, Peres noted that “there isn’t a single Israeli soldier or civilian left in Gaza, so why is there still rocket fire? It is imperative that the Qassam fire cease before all else.
“We are not (the Palestinians’ ) enemy. We do not want to conquer Gaza. We are merely acting in self-defense. Before there is even talk of a ‘hudna’ the Qassams must cease,” said Peres.
'No formal peace talks necessary'
Several new agencies reported Thursday that Israel was considering a formal ceasefire with Hamas. Prime Minister Olmert categorically denied these reports.
Talk of a ceasefire has been circulating the entire week. President Peres commented on these rumors Wednesday saying : “This is a pathetic attempt to toss sand in the worlds’ eyes and distract them from the heinous crimes perpetrated by Hamas as well as Islamic Jihad."
Others within the government have cautiously contemplated a ceasefire with Hamas.
Transportation Minister and former IDF chief of staff Shaul Mofaz said Wednesday: “Once Hamas and Islamic Jihad stop bombarding our citizens, our women and children, then Israel will immediately ceasefire. In essence, then, no formal peace negotiations are necessary.”