Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu put the brakes on meetings between President Shimon Peres and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas three years ago just as they were about to reach an agreement, Peres said in an interview broadcast on Tuesday evening.
“We reached understandings on almost all of the points, and needed to do a summary,” Peres said, in a Channel 2 interview in which he discussed a series of meetings he held at the time with Abbas.
Peres canceled the last meeting, at Netanyahu’s instructions.
The prime minister had the impression that Quartet envoy Tony Blair would be able to bring a better offer, the president said.
“I didn’t think that way,” Peres said. “I did not think that Tony Blair could bring a better offer than the one I brought.”
According to Peres, who is in the final months of his presidential term, Abbas was willing to recognize Israel as the Jewish state in return for the establishment of a Palestinian state.
Regarding the refugee issue, Peres said agreement was reached along the lines of the Arab League initiative that the problem would be resolved in an agreed and just manner.
Peres stressed that the meetings he held with Abbas, at a time when there were no negotiations, were held with Netanyahu’s knowledge and consent.
The president, who said he has known Abbas for 30 years, called him a man of “character,” a “fighter against terrorism,” and a man who is courageous and talks of peace.
Sources in the Prime Minister’s Office denied that Abbas agreed to anything at the time, and that – as is the case now – “all he wanted was to take from Israel without giving anything in return.”
The only agreements that Abbas has made were “ones with Hamas,” the sources said.
Referring to Abbas’s meeting in Qatar on Monday with Hamas head Khaled Mashaal, the sources said that “anyone who embraces the arch-murderer Mashaal” does not want peace with Israel.