The escalation of violence between Palestinians and Jews, coupled with the lack of progress in ending the conflict between them, has not caused former president Shimon Peres to change his mind about the possibility of peace being achieved by a two-states-for-two-peoples agreement.
Asked by Jerusalem Post Editor-in–Chief Steve Linde on Thursday at the Post Diplomatic Conference whether he still believes in peace with the Palestinians, Peres replied, “100 percent.”
When asked why the Arabs are not talking peace, Peres responded: “We have to improve our hearing.”
He called it a significant development that Israel and her neighbors now have a common cause in fighting terrorism.
As a result, he said, Arab states such as Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia along with the Arab League have taken a more moderate stance towards Israel.
Peres compared the current situation with the “three noes resolution” taken at the Arab League summit in Khartoum in September 1967: no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, and no negotiations with Israel.
Relating to reports about the negative statements that Arab leaders make in connection with Israel, Peres said: “The problem is not what the Arabs say, but what we are saying. Peace is not just a nice agreement where the enemy accepts your views. Peace is a compromise. We have to convince our own people that we have to make friends with people who do not share our views. We have to at least try to negotiate.”
Peres took the present government to task for the cessation of negotiations, and was also critical of what he perceives to be inadequate anti-terrorism measures.
While Peres favors the two-state solution, he opposes unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state and implied that the diplomats who were listening to him would do well to inform their respective parliaments that there should not be recognition of a Palestinian state before a peace agreement is reached.
Peres is likewise not in favor of the “Jewish state” bill, which he regards as “too provincial.”
If the present policy continues, Peres warned, Israel may lose the battle for a Jewish state.
“It’s not a matter of declaration” he said in reference to repeated declarations by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel has accepted the two-state solution. If he doesn’t follow through, Peres cautioned, “and we don’t have a Jewish majority, we won’t have a Jewish state.”
Asked by Linde for a pre-Hanukka message, Peres said that he hopes “the light of the candles will overcome the lack of light in politics.”