Neither Israel nor the United States is interested in prolonging the political tensions that have erupted between the two countries, President Shimon Peres said on Wednesday.

Peres made the statement in response to a question by a high school student during a meeting in Holon between the president and some 1,000 teens who are due to enter the army within the next year.

Peres has made strenuous attempts in recent days to placate the Americans by utilizing every possible opportunity to talk about America as Israel’s long-standing friend, supporter and strategic ally.

He did so again in Holon, declaring his conviction that both Israel and America want to bring the strain in relations to an end.

He had already discussed the matter earlier in the day with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, he said, and knew without doubt that Israel wanted to get beyond the tensions.

There is a long-standing friendship between Israel and the United States based on common democratic values, history and biblical values, said Peres.

Referring to the source of the dispute, namely a plan to build 1,600 apartments in Jerusalem’s Ramat Shlomo neighborhood, which is over the pre-1967 Green Line, Peres said that an understanding must be reached as quickly as possible.

He disclosed that he had been talking to the Americans as well as to Netanyahu, and that he was under the impression from these talks that both sides were interested in reaching an understanding.

“For us the United States is a true friend. We have great respect for its parliamentary and executive institutions and of course for the president of the United States,” he said.

Israel is interested in getting the relationship back on track, said Peres.

With regard to Jerusalem, Peres noted that residential construction in east Jerusalem had taken place under all the previous governments of Israel, but they did not build in the Arab neighborhoods.

The Palestinians and the Americans had agreed to this in the past, with the understanding that this would continue until there was an official map.

Referring to proximity talks with the Palestinians, Peres said that face-to-face talks were preferable, but proximity talks were better than no talks at all if peace negotiations were to resume.

Once again stressing the importance of reaching a peace accord, Peres said that there was no point in fomenting hostilities forever.


Conceding that there were Palestinians who doubted Israel’s sincerity with regard to the creation of a Palestinian state, Peres shared a lesson that he had learned from David Ben-Gurion that no political situation should be judged on rhetoric, but on the basis of what had been achieved – “and a lot has already been achieved.”

The Palestinians are building towns, hi-tech enterprises and a police force “and they’re doing all this with Israeli support” said Peres, adding that under the circumstances there was no reason to doubt Israel’s intentions.

There are still points of disagreement, he acknowledged, adding that the best way to resolve them is at the negotiating table. 

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