President Shimon Peres' meetings with US President Barack Obama and other White House officials later this week have the Palestinian Authority up in arms, as a senior Palestinian official told Ynet that "over the past few years, Peres has become the 'besom' for radical Israeli governments."
The Israeli president is scheduled to attend the American Israeli Political Activity Committee (AIPAC) conference in Washington this week, and will meet with Obama on Tuesday.
According to the Palestinian official, Peres has been willing to sacrifice his international prestige in order to cover up former Prime Ministers Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert governments' lack of progress, as far as the Israeli-Palestinian peace process was concerned.
Sunday's comments came in response to reports suggesting Peres will try to "soften" White House officials ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to Washington later this month, by attempting to bridge some of the differences already recorded between the US administration and the Israeli government.
"What exactly will Peres be bridging? What will he be trying to convince Obama of?" asked the Palestinian official. "Will he try to get Obama to forego the peace process? Will he explain to him that the two-state solution is invalid, like (Foreign Minister Avigdor) Lieberman said?"
Does Peres mean to convince the US president that dealing with settlements will weaken the radical Israeli government, wondered the official, "or will he try to convince him that expanding settlements cannot harm the Palestinians faith in the peace process?"
'Stop lauding Peres as a peacemaker'Peres, he continued, "is disgracing himself by proving that all the talk about peace is meant first and foremost to create a false halo around his image as one of the world's prominent peace advocates.
"He has never done anything significant to (advance) peace. He never contributed so much as one suggestion constructive to the process. This man has repeatedly and systematically harmed any chance of forming an international front against the radical, anti-peace policies devised by Israeli governments."
Any step ever taken by Israel in favor of the peace process was taken by other politicians, he added, attributing the Oslo Accords to former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and the Gaza disengagement – "as flawed as it was" – to Ariel Sharon.
"Even the withdrawal from Hebron was done by the current (Israeli) prime minister, and Peres is now trying to 'launder' him in the eyes of the US administration."
The international community must stop lauding Peres and a person dedicated to peace, he added, "since his is, in fact, obstructing the peace process by trying to market governments and policies which oppose peace."
The Palestinian Authority, concluded the high-ranking source, understands that no real progress can be made while Netanyahu is prime minister.
"We only hope that there is no radical setback, as the settlers continue – under the cover of the Netanyahu-Lieberman government – to rob (Palestinian) land in a way that would make the peace process collapse entirely."