Peres: Iran, peace process tests of unity gov't

In midst of five-day visit to Canada, president says broad based coalition will be judged by its ability to deal Palestinians, Iranian threat.

President Shimon Peres during a meeting in Toronto 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
President Shimon Peres during a meeting in Toronto 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Geographic distance has not prevented President Shimon Peres, who on Thursday wound up a state visit to Canada, from keeping his finger on the pulse of political development at home.
Peres was apprised of the deal between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz before the news was made public to the nation. Netanyahu called Peres in Canada and received his enthusiastic blessing. Peres congratulated him and said that a national unity government was good for the people of Israel in light of the crucial challenges now facing the state.
At a mass meeting with the Jewish community of Toronto on Wednesday night, Peres in a live interview with political commentator David Frum said that Israel stands firm in the face of two central challenges – the attainment of peace with the Palestinians and preventing the continuation of the Iranian nuclear project.
In response to a question on Iran, Peres said that so long as the United States continues to lead the international coalition on sanctions against Iran, Israel would not monopolize the issue, but would be a loyal coalition partner. While not discounting the possibility of a military option, Peres made it clear that Israel would prefer that other sanctions be effective. "All options still remain on the table," he said.
Relating to a question of political upheavals in the Middle East, Peres said that today it is very uncomfortable to be a dictator in the Middle East. There was a time when it was a paying proposition, but this is no longer the case, especially since social media has enabled the younger generation to see what is going on in the world beyond and to then ask itself why it has to be subjected to a cycle of poverty, hunger and unemployment.
Asked what advice he had for Israel's newly expanded national unity government, Peres said that with such a broad based coalition, the government would be judged on its ability to advance the peace process with the Palestinians and on formulating the correct policy with regard to Iran.