Peres 311 reuters.
(photo credit: Reuters)
There will be no civil war in Israel if an agreement is reached with the
Palestinians that includes the ceding of territory in the West Bank, President
Shimon Peres said on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters in Ashkelon, Peres
was confident that settlers affected by such a measure would accept the majority
It would not be easy, he acknowledged, because the settlers
would be inclined to blame everyone for their change in status.
if a major dispute should erupt, Peres was certain that things would work out in
the long run and that the settlers would agree to return to live inside Israel’s
defined borders if they were adequately compensated in a territorial exchange or
if they were helped to relocate to one of the three major settlement
Peres was in Ashkelon to receive honorary citizenship of the
seaside city, yet another of the many honors that have been conferred on him
throughout his years of public service.
Peres was the first national
leader to designate Ashkelon as a development area deserving of government
support and investment. He was influential in the construction of Ashkelon’s
marina and in the development of regional tourism. He also helped to maintain
the morale of the residents during the most difficult periods of Operation Cast
For these and other reasons the people of Ashkelon turned out en
masse to cheer him and shake his hand.
In a question and answer session
with some 1,000 high school students Peres said that an Israeli-Palestinian
peace agreement was absolutely in Israel’s interest.
“If we lose the
Jewish majority, we will not have a Jewish state,” he said. “If we don’t reach
an agreement, we will remain in a perpetual conflict.
There will be more
sophisticated weapons and both our political and security situations will
Peres reiterated his frequent contention that the gaps
between Israel and the Palestinians are not so great that they cannot be
overcome. He underscored his belief that an agreement is possible and that it
will be reached in the near future, providing both sides return to the
The differences are more psychological and emotional
than territorial, he declared, noting that the Middle East is at a crossroads
that could result in Iran-style extremism or in a move towards democracy,
stability and peace.