During a visit to Safed, the president said, "The only thing the State of Israel must ensure is a Jewish majority in Jerusalem. To the best of my knowledge, there is no agreement on Jerusalem, but in any case it is clear that the holy sites must remain under our control. Currently we all want a unified Jerusalem."
Shimon Peres praying at the Western Wall (Photo: Gil Yochanan)
Peres said he hoped the negotiations with the Palestinians would yield results soon, adding that economic steps were vital to the advancement of the process.
"The economic process significantly shortens the road to peace and build trust," he said.
Turning his attention to Jonathan Pollard, the president said the Americans were "surprisingly adamant in their position", adding that Israel was making every effort to release the convicted spy.
"In the past there was a moment when it seemed as though the US was prepared to free Pollard, but at the last minute the American security forces strongly objected to the move," Peres said.
The president said Israel submitted a fresh request to have Pollard pardoned.
As for the kidnapped Israeli soldiers, Peres said, there was "no other choice but to cooperate with the enemy.
"However, the leaking of information must stop. The negotiations must be kept secret, but one thing must be made clear: Israel is doing everything in its power to bring the boys back home," he said.
Addressing last summer's war in Lebanon, the president said, "Make no mistake, Hizbullah is quiet because it knows what the price is for attacking and kidnapping."