President Shimon Peres on Monday pursued his calls for peace when addressing spiritual and lay leaders of Israel's Christian community, withstanding the waves of criticism that he encountered on Sunday after telling Israeli diplomatic missions abroad that Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas is a leader with whom Israel can reach a peace agreement.
This time he refrained for mentioning Abbas, but spoke instead of Hamas, saying that people ask why Israel won't talk to them. "It's not that we won't talk to them," he said, "they won't talk to us.
Peres said that Israel would be willing to talk to Hamas if it accepted the three conditions laid down by the Quartet, namely: renunciation of terror; recognition of Israel; and entering negotiations with Israel. "They have to decide if they want peace or war" said Peres, adding that if they continue to shoot rockets into Israel, Israel will retaliate.
As for the PA, Peres said that it has established security forces with Israel's approval and is building up its economy with Israel's help, and he expressed confidence that peace could be achieved.