'Peres says Israel will give positive response to Quartet'

Visiting Golani troops in the North, the president says he believes PA will also respond positively; warns against cutting defense budget.

President Shimon Peres with Golani soldiers 311 (photo credit: Moshe Milner /  GPO)
President Shimon Peres with Golani soldiers 311
(photo credit: Moshe Milner / GPO)
President Shimon Peres said he believes Israel will give a positive response to the Quartet's proposal for renewing direct peace talks with the Palestinians, speaking at an Jewish New Years event for the Golani Brigade in the North on Tuesday, Israel Radio reported.
Peres expressed hope that the Palestinians too would come back with a positive response to the proposal to enable the renewal of peace negotiations within a month, per the Quartet proposal.
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The president also addressed fears expressed in recent days over cuts to the defense budget in order to pay for socioeconomic changes recommended by the Trajtenberg Committee.
Peres told the Golani troops that demands made by the social movement will not be paid for only with cuts to the defense budget.
"We are living in a period that appears calm on the surface," he said, "and maybe that has created the feeling that we can [make cuts], but that's not correct."
On Sunday, a senior source in the General Staff warned that the IDF "will collapse" if the government follows through with plans to cut the planned defense budget for 2012.
According to the officer, the IDF will not be able to implement its strategic long-term procurement plans if the budget is cut by NIS 3 billion as the Treasury is seeking to offset some of the tax breaks and economic benefits it will need to finance in response to the social protests.
Despite the IDF warning, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Sunday that the defense establishment would need to make cuts to its budget.
“The social protests were real and provided us with an opportunity to solve some real social problems and the Defense Ministry needs to contribute its part,” Barak said at a meeting of the Independence faction.
Yaakov Katz contributed to this report.

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