President Shimon Peres with envoys at Rosh Hashana ceremony .
(photo credit: Mark Neiman/GPO)
President Shimon Peres does not believe Syria will wage war against
At a reception that he hosted on Tuesday for heads of diplomatic
missions in Israel and for honorary consuls representing countries that do not
have embassies here, Peres said he did not believe Syria would attack Israel
because Syria did not have the deterrence, strength or defense that Israel
Israel developed sophisticated missiles and had one of the best
security forces of modern times, he said.
Peres said he would suggest to
every leader to emulate US President Barack Obama and check every possible angle
before entering into a war to bring an end to the terrible situation in Syria,
rather than to regret his decision afterward.
Syrian President Bashar
Assad does not have the right to be a leader after killing 100,000 of his own
people, said Peres, who added that it was impossible to remain indifferent to
the killing of children by their own leader, or to ignore the suffering of some
2 million Syrian refugees.
What Assad has done, said Peres, “is the worst
demonstration of evil.”
Just before the formalities, Peres asked several
ambassadors to join him near the entrance to the reception hall to partake of
the traditional apple and honey.
Henri Etoundi Essomba, the ambassador of
Cameroon who is dean of the diplomatic corps, said after his taste of apple and
honey that Israel has long been recognized as a land of milk and honey, but now
it also has natural gas.
Essomba reviewed the past year, including the
Knesset election in January, and said that a much younger generation of leaders
had emerged and had changed the balance of power.
He commended Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas
for renewing the peace process, a factor that he attributed to the visit of
Obama to Israel and the PA and to the efforts of US Secretary of State John
Kerry to persuade the two leaders to return to the negotiating
Peres said that it had not been simple for either Netanyahu or
Abbas. Netanyahu had to overcome certain problems and take risks as he embarked
on the unknown – and there were always doubts, said Peres.
trying to achieve peace and had maintained his opposition to terrorism, Peres
continued, emphasizing that although Abbas comes from Safed, he has expressed no
desire to return there.
The very fact that both sides agreed to resume
negotiations was a victory for peace, Peres declared.
In assessing the
dangers confronting the Middle East and beyond, Peres considered the existential
threats of poverty and hunger to be the worst, and said he had hopes for the
region because more than 60 percent of the 350 million Arabs living in the
Middle East were under the age of 26, and 99 million of these people were
registered as online users. He expects that number to double soon and thus
expose more Arabs to the modern world of science and technology.
did not see terrorism, which is rampant in the Arab world, as an alternative to
war, because nations that go to war, ultimately make peace. In a war soldiers
are united, but terrorist groups are not, because they have no policy and no
message, said Peres.
“Nothing destroys a nation more than
As a result of terrorism, he said, countries in the Middle
East were losing their territorial integrity. “Terrorism is the greatest danger
to countries that permit terror. Sooner or later, they become the
Peres was convinced that Arab countries could improve their
economies by giving women access to education and by following Israel’s example
in encouraging their human resources to develop their potential for technology
“What we did, all our neighbors can do,” he said. “Our
interest is to see a flourishing neighborhood in the Middle East.”
toasting the New Year together with the diplomats, Peres, making the toast in
both Hebrew and English, wished for a year of peace, justice, and prosperity
without discrimination for all people.