President Shimon Peres_311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
President Shimon Peres issued a scathing denunciation on Tuesday of the violence
perpetrated against women and an eight-year-old girl recently in Beit
“No one has the right to threaten a little girl,” he said, as he
appealed to the nation to save the country from the actions of a few that impact
so severely on the many. Speaking in advance of Tuesday night’s anti-radical
demonstration in Beit Shemesh, Peres said that religious, secular and
traditional citizens must band together to save the soul of the nation and the
substance of the state.
Peres was addressing the annual conference in
Jerusalem of Israeli ambassadors and consuls serving abroad, including those who
are due to take up new positions overseas in the summer.
religious extremists who would impose their will on others, Peres said, “We are
not the masters of this country; we are the citizens of this country,” meaning
that everyone, without exception, must abide by the rule of law.
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reiterated his oft-repeated contention that Israel and the Palestinians must
resume peace negotiations as soon as possible. This time, however, he added the
rider that aside from all else, it was important in terms of Israel’s image.
While negotiations remain frozen, Israel is widely perceived as an
This perception would diminish, Peres was convinced, if
negotiations were to get underway.
Peres said that he was pleased that
Palestinians living in Judea and Samaria were more affluent than in former years
and were enjoying a better quality of life. He was also pleased that the
Palestinians have their own efficiently run security forces. Yet for all that,
there was a note of dissatisfaction in his remarks, especially when he stated
that the Palestinian Authority is a small body with a big shadow.
much is happening beneath that shadow,” he noted.
Iran is a serious
problem and decidedly dangerous to the whole world, but there is no need to get
hysterical about it, Peres said.
Israel has successfully confronted worse
existential threats, said Peres, recalling the early days of the War of
Independence when Israel emerged triumphant, despite the shortage of arms,
ammunition and manpower.
A factor in Israel’s victories, he implied, was
the imagination of the enemy. It was important for the enemy to believe that
Israel has an enormous arsenal of resources. In this context, Peres mentioned
Dimona, saying that no one knew exactly what Dimona was.
Although he had
previously admitted publicly that Israel’s nuclear research center was located
in Dimona, Peres refrained on this occasion from elaborating, even though it is
now common knowledge. For many years, the nuclear research center in Dimona
functioned in the guise of a textile factory.
There was much speculation
about what was really going on inside, but no one other than those involved
actually knew the details until nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu blew the
whistle to the British press in 1986.
Likewise today, no one knows to
what extent Israel is capable of dealing with the Iranian problem, but with the
reputation that Israel has built up in science and technology, it is imagined
that Israel can overcome this hurdle just as it has in the past.
foreign minister, Peres was very much at home in the diplomatic environment and
spoke extemporaneously without any reference to notes.
On the subject of
the Arab Spring, Peres did not hazard a guess as to how it will play out, beyond
saying that spring is supposed to be a calm, happy season and the he had never
seen such a tempestuous spring as this. There is a new element that is quite
frightening, he admitted, “Because no one knows its strength or how it will
Whatever happens, Peres cautioned, Israel must remain on the
outside looking in, and must refrain from trying to exert any influence one way
or the other.
Nonetheless, he said, Israel must remain alert, because
there are those who blame Israel for everything.