Peace icon or impediment to 2-state solution? Palestinians split on Peres

Palestinian leadership and civil society reflect on Peres in light of the former president's deteriorating health.

Peres and Arafat meet in Cairo Agreement (photo credit: REUVEN CASTRO)
Peres and Arafat meet in Cairo Agreement
(photo credit: REUVEN CASTRO)
In light of Shimon Peres’s grave condition, Palestinian political and civil society leaders reflected on one of Israel’s most famed personalities.
Ahmad Majdalani, a top adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, told The Jerusalem Post that the Palestinian leadership wishes Peres “a speedy recovery.”
Majdalani, who also is a member of the PLO Executive Committee, said Peres is a man of peace. “He undertook great efforts to make peace. When I met with him, it was clear that he was ready to make peace.”
Another top Palestinian official, who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity, told the Post that Peres’s words never matched his deeds.
“I think he talked more than anyone else about peace, but ultimately did nothing,” the official said.
“In 1996, he asked us to revoke the PLO charter to help him get elected, and then he went and bombed Qana to prove he was just as [much a] Likudnik as anyone else. Frankly, his standing in Israel and the international community are not founded on solid grounds.”
Peres served as prime minister for six months following the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, before losing to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the 1996 elections.
Ashraf al-Ajrami, a former Palestinian minister of prisoner affairs, told the Post that Peres is a man of peace, but also was not brazen enough to achieve it. “He is a man of peace and he believes in peace, but he was not able to take bold decisions to make peace.
When he was prime minister in 1996, he could have turned the Oslo Accords into a complete agreement, but unfortunately he hesitated,” the former minister said.
Sam Bahour, a prominent Palestinian businessman and public intellectual, told the Post that portraying Peres as a man of peace is not accurate.
“I see him in terms of his military background and as a founder of the entire settlement enterprise, which is not only a stumbling block in front of us, but could undo the two-state paradigm,” Bahour said. “Although he may have woken up later in his life, trying to reach out to the Palestinian side, he never crossed the line to meet the bare minimum of what the Palestinians require to move forward.”
Hamas official Salah Bardawil wrote on Twitter that “Shimon Peres is saying farewell to the world that he corrupted with the blood of the children of Qana and Gaza. Everywhere he wore his cloak of peace, but hid a dagger of treachery under it.”
Peres served in a number of prominent roles in the government and opposition and most recently served as president from 2007 to 2014.