GUADALAJARA, Mexico – Shimon Peres does not intend to try to extend his tenure as president when his seven-year term expires in the summer of 2014, he told Israel Radio on Sunday.
Speaking in an interview at the tail-end of a state visit to Mexico, Peres said in response to queries about whether he would return to politics following his presidency, that "it is possible to serve the country outside of political life as well."
Peres continued to push for advancement of the peace process with the Palestinians during his visit to Mexico.
“I didn’t give up hope, and believe that just as we made
peace with the Egyptians at a time when it did not seem possible and we made
peace with the Jordanians, we will make peace with the Palestinians,” Peres said
in the course of a dialogue with Felipe Gonzalez, the former four-term prime
minister of Spain on Saturday evening following the inauguration of the Israeli
pavilion at Mexico’s 27th Guadalajara International Book Fair.
largest Spanish-language book fair in the world and the second largest
international book fair after Frankfurt has made Israel its guest of honor this
Israel’s participation is in the nature of a cultural happening
focusing on diverse aspects of Israeli culture which will be featured in
Guadalajara over a nine-day period. Huge posters to this effect with photographs
of Israeli cultural icons can be seen all over the city.
At the opening
ceremony of the Israeli pavilion, Peres said that people who suffer write good
books or use swords.
“Swords kill; books enrich,” he said.
entered the auditorium in which the dialogue was held, Peres received a
sustained standing ovation, as has been the case at all his appearances in
Mexico. He received another ovation replete with cheers and cries of “Shalom!”
when his name was mentioned by the moderator of the dialogue.
Many of the
600 people sitting in the auditorium had flown in from Mexico City to share a
Sabbath meal with Peres on Friday night and to hear him again at the book
The dialogue with Gonzalez covered subjects such as ideologies that
have either disappeared or lost their relevance, racism, the technological
revolution, the impact of science, new definitions of old concepts and, of
course, the peace process.
Peres and Gonzalez are old friends from the
days in which both were active in the Socialist International and have
previously dialogued on these subjects both in private and in
Gonzalez raised the issue of tolerance, to which Peres – whose
definition of democracy is not only the right to be equal but the right to be
different – replied that if prejudices were eradicated, there would be no need
“We have to change prejudices and let our children build a
new world,” he said.
When Gonzalez expressed concern that science might
replace God, Peres responded: “I don’t think science is God, but science
elevates us to certain heights.”
When the conversation turned to the
Middle East and the contention by Gonzalez that Israel is not acknowledging the
rights of the Palestinians, Peres retorted that Israel was the first to
recognize the Palestinians. The Arabs did not recognize them when Jordan had
control of the West Bank and Egypt had control of Gaza, he said.
minister, his policy toward the Palestinians had cost him dearly, he
It was election time, and because of the continuing terrorist
attacks, he failed to be reelected.
“I lost the elections because I
trusted the Palestinians and terror continued. But I did not lose my way,” he
said. “I never gave up hope.”
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