President Shimon Peres has no intention of continuing on to an additional term. Although rumors are spreading, Peres has indicated that he will be satisfied with the seven years the law has granted him as president. "I received seven years, and I think that is fair," he said in a special interview to Ynet ahead of Israel's 65th Independence Day.
"I think that the president should be switched, and I have no intention of asking to stay. I think that it is hard to show restraint for so many years, and moreover, everyone knows my opinion. I want to run forward, to return to the new world."
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Such is our president: Even prior to his 90th birthday, which he will celebrate in splendor and grandeur, he has no intention of retiring. He still dreams of peace with the Palestinians, of good relations with the entire Arab world, and is pushing the world and Israeli science in the direction of brain research.
A conversation cannot be conducted with the president without the issue of brain research being mentioned at least five times. The buzz in Washington is that US President Barack Obama decided to allocate millions to brain research in the United States after hearing what Peres had to say on the subject.
No intention of requesting additional term. Peres (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
With all due respect to the brain, we told Peres that the main problem is peace with the Palestinians. "I think there are no two ways about it, and there will be peace," said the president. "No on can live in the current intermediate situation. But look what is happening: There is no intifada in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip, and Hamas is losing public support.
"You ask yourselves when peace will come. I do not know. I have a handless clock. It doesn't matter what time it is, because tomorrow morning you can wake up and see a new reality. No one has any idea, but I do think that by the country's 70-year celebrations, there will be peace. I want to hope. It is not just optimism," he told Ynet.
Peres believes that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is considered by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a refuser of peace, is actually capable of signing a peace agreement with Israel. According to Peres, "we have already arrived at a line of unprecedented agreements with Abu Mazen (Abbas). His situation has improved because for the first time he has someone to lean on – he has his security-related power, and that is important since political support in the Arab countries comes from the military."
The president added: "I don't believe that the Jordanian army and the Palestinian security forces will agree that Hamas will come and take control over them. Therefore, an anti-Hamas force has been created and I believe that Abu Mazen (Abbas) is strong enough to make serious decisions. He understands that he must decide between terror and peace – there is nothing else. He chose peace and he demonstrated courage…and there is an agreement on how to end the conflict – two states for two nations."
Peres refrains from publicly criticizing Netanyahu . He only broke this rule once, when he truly feared that Netanyahu and former Defense Minister Ehud Barak would lead Israel to a military adventure in Iran.
'For Bibi, settlers more important than settlements' (Photo: Moshe Milner, GPO)
Regarding the prime minister's stance on settlements, Peres said "my impression is that for Bibi, the settler issue is more important than the settlements; meaning that the people are more important than the area itself,. I am telling you that with a little imagination, we can solve the land issue."
Officially, Jerusalem has said that Israel will not make any gestures towards Abbas to bring him to the negotiation table. No prisoners, no land, nothing.
"We are prepared to do all these things, under the condition that they do it too. For instance, that they recognize the Jewish State or recognize Israeli military presence in the Jordan Valley. If they do, there will be change," Peres told Ynet.
Peres is among the Israeli leaders who believe that the Americans will not hesitate to use military force against Iran, should the diplomatic efforts fail. "The problem today is not if America can, but rather if America will," said the president.
'America cannot permit Iranian victory' (Photo: AFP)
"Just as America developed very good relations with us in the realm of security, it also prepared the option of using force if necessary. I am of those who believe that it will happen if there is no choice. I am convinced, since I know the US president's opinion, but even if I wouldn't have known his opinion I look at the picture – America cannot permit an Iranian victory," the president declared.
Living optimisticallyAddressing the recent general elections, Peres said the Israeli public said that the time has come to repair the internal situation in Israel."
Peres added that "this is the first government whose foundation is more social than political. The question is if it is possible to make social reforms without peace? I am not sure about that. I don't think that if the housing and food prices are reduced, it will bring peace. No peace has a price – what we will gain socially we will lose politically. In my opinion, we must continue (raising) two banners – one social and one political. We have no choice."
The president relayed his Independence Day blessings, saying "I want to wish Israel's citizens that the social flag and the political flag will wave simultaneously and promote the issues. I think that this year is the right year – since here, no one can say what will happen within a year – until we know what will happen we have time to cause the right things to happen.
"Pessimists and optimists die in the same manner – they just live life in a different manner and thus, optimistic lives must be lived. As one of the State of Israel's youngsters – I have a license to be optimistic. Most things that seemed in the past like a dream and madness, came to fruition," said Peres.
Noam (Dabul) Dvir contributed to the report
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