President Shimon Peres at AIPAC Conference 390 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)
WASHINGTON -- President Shimon Peres declared Sunday that if Israel decided to take military action against Iran it would triumph.
"Peace is always our first option. But, if we are forced to fight, trust me -- we shall prevail," he said to applause from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference at which was speaking.
Charging that Iran's "ambition is to control the Middle East," he said that its nuclear program "must be stopped, and it will be stopped."
Peres, speaking before US President Barack Obama also addressed the group, praised Obama for ruling out containment as a strategy against Iran and stressed that "there is no space between us" in needing to deny Iran a nuclear weapon.
Peres spoke ahead of a meeting with Obama later Sunday, as well as a meeting the US president will have Monday with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who will also be addressing AIPAC. They are expected to focus on Iran and questions of timelines and how aggressive to be with the actions taken against Iran. Both sides have emphasized different positions on these issues in the days leading up to their talks.
Peres also spoke of his desire to see peace and freedom in Syria and his sympathy for the country, "where a tyrant is killing his people."
"In spite of the storm," he said of the changes stirring in the Middle East, "we have to reach out to the young generation in the Arab world, to those who strive for freedom, democracy and peace."
He said that included the Palestinians and that the two sides must continue to work for peace.
"The Palestinians are our neighbors for life. Peace can and must be achieved, a peace based on a two state-solution: a Jewish state - Israel, an Arab state - Palestine," he said to a smattering of applause.