President Shimon Peres
said at the Globes Business Conference that "I am ready to meet with (Iranian President Hassan) Rohani.
I don't have enemies. We don't see Iran
as an enemy. Antagonism isn't a personal issue. It's a matter of policy.
"There were days when we didn't want to meet with Arafat,
but when he changed his policies, we said 'why not?' We're in favor of peace, and I believe the goal is to turn enemies into friends."
Peres (whose comments were translated from a Hebrew transcript of the event) responded "Why not?" to a question posed during an interview by CNN's Richard Quest, he elaborated on his comments only after being pushed to further elaborate on his initial response.
Peres in Mexico (Photo: Mark Neuman, GPO)
Regarding the preferred policy to quell Iran's nuclear ambitions, President Peres said that like the US, "We also prefer economic or political pressure before anyone begins to shoot. We are no a hurry to shoot," he stated.
In additional bid to calm tensions between the US and Israel
– which reached new heights Saturday at the Saban Forum
– Peres claimed "basically the relations have remained as they were and as they should be."
He added that Israel was not alone in its desire to see a nuclear free Iran, citing Russia and China as part of an "impressive coalition" of allegedly like-minded nations.
Nonetheless, Peres expressed doubt at Rohani's ability to make good on the Geneva nuclear agreement as well as moderating Iran's hardliners, claiming that the political atmosphere in Iran, as well as the strength of the Revolutionary Guard, would block any change.
Peres made similar comments last Thursday during a State visit to Mexico, saying "Iran has signed an interim agreement with the P5+1. Success or failure of the deal will be judged by results, not by words."
Peres nevertheless stressed that "As far as Israel is concerned, we do not consider the Iranian people our enemies. We do not share a border. We do share a common history. It demonstrates that we can be friendly. There is an opportunity to solve this issue diplomatically. It is in your hands. Reject terrorism. Stop the nuclear program. Stop the development of long-range missiles."
During the Globes business event, Peres also commented on the peace process, saying that there was bipartisan support of the two-state solution in Israel, nonetheless he noted that chances of reaching an agreement within the allocated nine month negotiation time frame were far from certain.
Peres also echoed comments made in Mexico in support of marriage equality for same-sex couples in Israel, claiming that all people are born equal and had a right to love.
Noam (Dabul) Dvir and Eyal Lehmann contributed to this report
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