President Shimon Peres
reiterated his vision for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process Sunday, in an onslaught of critical statements regarding both the government's inaction and the dangers Israel
faces if a viable Palestinian state
fails to form.
Speaking at the Foreign Ministry's annual conference, the president said: "There is a clear majority for the principle of two-states for two peoples." He complimented Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas,
saying "He is the only Arab leader to publically stand up and say that he is for peace and against terror"
Peres' remarks were made in a politically sensitive time, as elections
are a mere three weeks away.
Speaking before 160 ambassadors, he said: "We must complete the task of reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians without further delay, and clearly state that the bi-national solution is a danger to Zionism, Judaism and the democracy of the State of Israel."
The president also commented on regional developments, saying: "Israel can take a more passive position, where reality dictates decisions; or Israel can choose a more proactive approach, taking initiative and brave steps on a number of issues, the first of which is completing the peace deal with the Palestinians and without further delay."
President Peres (Photo: GPO)
The president also attacked the political elements hindering the two-state solution:
"Those who do not want the two-state solution must offer an alternative, what will take its place? What will be Israel's future? Otherwise reality, and not us, will decide. …I would like us to live together as twins, but in such a small area with such a deep seated hatred, mistrust and cultural differences- it is not possible."
In addition, he also attacked the current government's political and diplomatic policy: "Diplomacy's role is, and always has been, to enlist new friend's not garner new foes. My life experience has taught me that diplomacy is the art of what is possible. We need to replace the current aggressive approach with a more moderate approach based on dialogue, and then what seems impossible will become possible, if only we act with wisdom."
Peres then showered the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas with praise, saying: "I have know Abu Maze for 30 years, I do not uncritically accept or agree with everything he has ever said or done, but I know the reality in which he works.
"His actions in the way of preventing terror are brave to the point they risk his life. Put yourselves in his shoes and you will come to understand that his acceptance of a solution to the right of return and the acceptance of the fact that he will not return to Safed, his city of birth, are important and brave statements. There is little time; this is a feasible option that can be undertaken today," he said.
Peres emphasized that according to recently published polls a majority of Israeli citizens want peace. "I do not want to go into political issues, but polls indicate that a majority of the people want peace. The argument is therefore not if peace is possible or not but rather the doubts and misgivings people have in its regard."
He also pointed to the benefits of such a peace, claiming strategic relation with Israel can develop through cooperation in the fields of technology, science, medicine and agriculture
"Israel took its lack of natural resources and turned them to its advantage through human capital, through man. Our relations with China, India, Latin America and South Africa began and grew through technology.
"We must continue to contribute our knowledge and technology to the world, that way we can minimize human suffering, whether it is that of our neighbors or the global community.
"We do not enjoy the suffering in Gaza, we derive no pleasure from the fact the people around the world die from hunger, if we stay not just a Jewish and democratic state, but also a human state, then that will be our major diplomatic power."
The Likud-Beiteinu campaign issued a harsh statement following the president's remarks, saying: "It is a shame that the president – a symbolic role – has chosen to express a personal political opinion so disconnected from the Israeli public; it is even more of a shame that he chose to do se before foreign ambassadors, presenting an opinion that fosters the international condemnations of Israel."
MK Isaac Herzog,
head of the Labor
Party's election campaign, also commented on the President's remarks, saying: "President Peres states clearly and uncompromisingly the need to return to real work in the diplomatic field, and not just make empty statements.
"The Netanyahu-Lieberman government has brought Israel to a record low point in terms of international isolation. The political stalemate puts Israel's future as the home for the Jewish people at risk."
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