President Shimon Peres voiced concern over Hamas' foreign funding but expressed hope that direct talks with the Palestinian Authority could bring an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in an interview with CNN, which was released Friday.
Addressing the rising tensions over Iran's nuclear development, Peres also restated his call on the citizens of the Islamic Republic to topple their "evil government."
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Op-ed: Hamas in deep trouble
The leader told the news network's Richard Quest that Hamas gets a whopping $900 million in funding each year, mostly from Iran, Qatar and Turkey. Yedioth Ahronth reported recently that Turkey has promised to funnel Hamas as much as $300 million in annual aid. Peres noted that the finances could help the terror grow stronger than the moderate movements in the Palestinian territories.
An attempt to restart the talks between Israel and the Palestinians in Amman ended this week without progress, but Peres said he still believes that negotiations are the only way to reach peace in the Middle East.
According to Peres, extremists in the region "use the (Israeli-Palestinian) conflict to justify the hatred of Israel…We don’t want to serve as an excuse.
"The things that happen in the Middle East have nothing to do with Israel. Neither in Syria, nor in Iraq, nor in Egypt, nothing. But they accuse us… the thing we can and should do, is end this conflict with the Palestinians, and stop it from continuing to be a justification to hate Israel."
In the interview, Peres refused to endorse any candidate contending for the presidency in the United States, noting only that he expects the US to persist with its commitment to Israel's security.
'Iranians, save your country'
The president lauded the US and the European Union's sanctions on Iran, but said there is still much to be done to stop what he called "the most corrupted country on earth." He said that the Islamic Republic's negative attributes extend beyond its budding nuclear program.
"Moral corruption is more dangerous than financial one," he said. "They hang people without courts. They send arms and money for terror. They cheat, they lie. My god, it's the only country that threatened to destroy another country."
On Thursday, Peres said at the World Economic Forum in Davos that the international community should empower the citizens of Iran to oust the regime there, and he reiterated that message during the interview.
"I would tell the Iranian people, save your own country," he said. "It's in your hands. Don't (rely) upon others. If you are ashamed of the way Iran behaves, and you should be ashamed, to save your own (honor), your own history, your own place in the world, you have to do it. "
"I'm not calling for a revolution, I'm calling Iran to get rid of the wrong revolution," he added. "To get rid of an evil government."
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