NEW YORK - President Shimon Peres held a meeting with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on Friday, during which he discussed the Goldstone Report and recent violence from Gaza towards Israel, and decried any efforts to unilaterally declare a Palestinian state.
Calling his talk with the Secretary General “very open and very clear,” Peres told a press conference afterward that he summarized the Israeli position with regard to Gaza and the West Bank.
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In Gaza, Peres said, Israel had made a decision to unilaterally leave and not to return to the territory.
“I don’t understand why once we left Gaza, they started to shoot at us, backed by declarations calling for the destruction of the State of Israel,” Peres said. “The UN cannot remain neutral in such a position.”
Borders to Gaza would have remained open, Peres said, were it not for the shooting of missiles at Israel. "They were closed in order to preclude such attacks."
“The first law of human rights is the right to remain alive,” Peres said. “Flotillas are an unnecessary provocation.” To those who would like to see the borders of Gaza opened, Peres said, he would advise that they speak to the leadership of Gaza and say, “If you will stop smuggling arms and stop shooting, you won’t have problems.”
Peres then talked about the Goldstone Report, saying that Israel “took it seriously,” but that only three of the four hundred accusations made against Israel had merit. He also noted that the war against terror is “a conflict between a lawful organization and an unlawful organization that used civilians as shields and targets.”
He noted Goldstone’s recent Washington Post op-ed, saying “I think it’s a little too many regrets.”
“For us, this is not an exercise in judicial exposition,” Peres said. “We are a people who are used to blood libels.”
Peres said that the Israeli government’s support of a two-state solution brought the major division between Israeli political parties to an end, but added that Israel “cannot leave places in the West Bank without making sure the Gazan story will not be repeated there.”
“If the UN can stop terror, welcome,” Peres said. “If the UN can stop missiles, welcome.”
Peres deemed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “not a confrontation of forces, but a confrontation of values.” He expressed his hope that the recent democratic awakening in Arab lands would lead to a more democratic, open and humane Middle East.
When one reporter questioned Peres on his having equated Goldstone to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Peres responded, “Anyone who reads the paper knows we left Gaza willingly. It’s a clear situation.” When the reporter pressed and said perhaps those firing missiles in Gaza felt provoked by Israel’s actions “in 1948,” Peres responded, “What are you talking about? You believe that?” When the reporter demurred, Peres answered, “If you don’t believe that, why are you defending them? I can’t understand your logic.”