West Bank protests in Ramallah 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)
Israel faces the prospect of a new Palestinian uprising because of despair over the gridlock in peacemaking, former Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) chief Ya'acov Peri said on Tuesday.
Peri, running for Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid party in the January 22 elections, told Reuters in an interview that the next government must make peace negotiations with the Palestinians its foreign policy priority.
"Israel must do everything to come back to the negotiating table and find a compromise," he said, criticizing other leaders from across the political spectrum for playing down the issue.
The IDF has reported growing violence across the West Bank in recent weeks, prompting warnings of a possible intifada after years of relative calm.
"Are we on the edge of a third intifada? It is a real possibility because of the amount of despair coupled with the (political) stalemate," said Peri, who headed the Shin Bet from 1988 to 1994 - a time that coincided with the first intifada.
Shin Bet is responsible for overseeing intelligence gathering in the Palestinian Territories and Peri warned that fundamentalist Islamist groups hostile to Israel would seize the initiative if there was no peace initiative.
He added that another Palestinian revolt need not be violent, but could evolve into a mass protest movement.
Peri said he was certain a deal could still be reached with the Palestinians.
"It is doable, but not easy. I wouldn't say there is hatred, but a complete lack of faith. I think 50 or 60 percent of the issues are already agreed upon," he said.
The Yesh Atid candidate criticized Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich for failing to address the peace process in the lead-up to the election.
"The extreme right refuses to deal with the diplomatic issues at all and is hiding its head in the sand. Yacimovich is aiding and abetting the right without presenting the alternative," said Peri.