President Shimon Peres said on Sunday he would have no problem meeting with
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
“Why not?” he said in an interview with
CNN’s Richard Quest at the Globes Israel Business Conference in Tel Aviv. Israel
and Iran are not enemies, he added.
The important factor was not the man
in question, but his policies, and the goal was to turn enemies into friends,
the president said. Peres compared the decision to Israel’s choice to meet with
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat ahead of the Oslo Peace agreements.
fact that structural players in Iran opposed Rouhani’s perspective complicated
the matter, Peres said.
“If it was only him I’d take it with greater
assurance, but there are other structures, other people,” he said. “The Iranian
Revolutionary Guard, half army and half organization, spreads terror all over
the world and I’m not so sure they support the president. We have to see
the balance of the situation.”
Peres also said he believed relations with
the United States had not been harmed over the Iran issue, and that US President
Barack Obama remained a solid friend to Israel. He stressed the importance of
using the next six months to sign a final deal that would ensure Iran would not
obtain a nuclear weapon.
On Saturday, Obama said tough sanctions helped
put Rouhani in power in Iran, but “that doesn’t mean that we should trust him or
anybody else inside of Iran.”
However, Obama continued, “the best way for
us to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapons is for a comprehensive,
verifiable, diplomatic resolution, without taking any other options off the
table if we fail to achieve that.”
Obama said there was a 50-50 chance
the recent interim agreement, which loosened minor sanctions in exchange for
some nuclear rollbacks, would successfully develop into a comprehensive nuclear
Peres also addressed the state of Israeli- Palestinian
negotiations, saying though peace was possible, Israel’s unsuccessful previous
attempts to move peace forward left the population reluctant. In particular, the
experience of withdrawing from Gaza, which led to a Hamas takeover and regular
rocket fire, raised security concerns.
“It’s complicated to negotiate,
not only with the other side but also with your own people, to convince them
that it’s a plan that will make them safe,” Peres said.
Asked his stance
on gay marriage in Israel, Peres responded that everybody was born equal and had
a right to love who they wanted to love.
When pressed, as to whether that
was a “yes” or “no” to whether he supported gay marriage, Peres responded: “I
think everybody will take it as a yes.” Though the question referenced a bill
that would give gay male couples equal tax status, which does not explicitly
legalize gay marriage, Quest specifically used the term “gay marriage” in his
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