Israel’s current government has offered peace talks with the Palestinian Authority, but has also expanded Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Indeed in recent weeks Mr Netanyahu has angered the US by announcing plans for more than 6,000 new homes for Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. Mr Peres said this policy risked losing US support by undermining Washington’s belief in Israel’s desire for peace. [ Let’s clear this up once and for all; Israel does not “Occupy” the West Bank. Israel specifically told King Hussein of Jordan that if his country stayed out of the 1967 war, Israel would not fight against him. Hussein ignored the warning and attacked Israel in 1967. While fending off the assault and driving out the invading Jordanian troops, Israel came to control the West Bank. Had Hussein heeded the warning, the Palestinians of the West Bank would in all likelihood be living as Jordanian citizens. By rejecting Arab demands that Israel be required to withdraw from all the territories won in 1967, the UN Security Council in Resolution 242 acknowledged that Israel was entitled to claim at least part of these lands for new defensible borders.]
Asked if Mr Obama believed that Israel shared his ambitions for peace in the Middle East, Mr Peres replied: “Of course he’s not convinced. He demanded an end to settlements and got a negative response, and they [members of Mr Netanyahu’s government] are to blame for the ongoing activity in the settlements. President Obama thinks that peace should be made with the Muslim world. We, the State of Israel, do not appear to be thinking along those lines. [ THE COVENANT OF THE HAMAS (1988): ‘Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.’ Yes, Mr President, the Muslim World wants peace. Right! ]
“We must not lose the support of the United States. What gives Israel bargaining power in the international arena is the support of the United States.”
He added that standing alone from the US, Israel would be “like a lone tree in the desert”.
Mr Peres, 89, became president in 2007 after a 50-year career in the center-left of Israeli politics during which he served as prime minister three times. His comments will draw accusations from Mr Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud-Beiteinu bloc that Mr Peres is breaking the convention that the ceremonial president should remain above party politics. Israel will hold an election on Jan 22 and the polls suggest both that Mr Netanyahu will be re-elected – and most voters are pessimistic or apathetic about the prospects of peace.
Mr Peres shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 with the then prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, and Yasser Arafat, the late Palestinian leader, for jointly forging the ill-fated Oslo agreement. [ Says a lot for the Nobel prize, that the terrorist Arafat won one. Something to be proud of ]
In his series of interviews with the New York Times Mr Peres told the Israeli journalist, Ronen Bergman, that Mr Netanyahu was not providing positive leadership.
“I think that if the people of Israel heard from the leadership that there is a chance for peace, they would take up the gauntlet and believe it,” he said. “There are two things that cannot be made without closing your eyes – love and peace.” [ Quote from a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood: “Every night when I go to bed, I pray to wake up the next day to see Israel is wiped off the map” ]
Although Mr Netanyahu publicly committed himself in 2009 to the principle of Palestinian statehood, he has been dismissive of Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority and the leader of the moderate Fatah faction. The two men have not met for more than two years. Mr Peres, by contrast, said he had met Mr Abbas several times with Mr Netanyahu’s knowledge and described the Palestinian as an “excellent” negotiating partner. [ Moderate Fatah? You mean the moderate Fatah that has aligned with the Hamas? That one? ]
Mr Peres alluded to Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons by claiming credit for creating the country’s nuclear program. “I do not think there are many people in the world who can say they managed to create a nuclear option in a small country,” he said, while reciting the achievements of his long career. Israeli leaders have always held to a policy of “strategic ambiguity”, neither confirming nor denying the possession of an atom bomb.
Mr Netanyahu renewed his attack on Mr Abbas on Thursday by criticizing him for meeting Khaled Meshaal, the Hamas leader, in Cairo this week.
“Abu Mazen [Mr Abbas] embraces the head of a terrorist organization that declared only last month that Israel must be wiped off the map,” said the prime minister. “This is not how someone who wants peace behaves.” [ Bully for Mr Netanyahu! At least someone has the stones to tell the truth! There can never and will never be peace with islamists. They must be defeated at all cost. Only then would there be peace. ]