Peres: Narrow gap between Israelis, Palestinians

In midst of five-day visit to Canada, president touts Palestinians "economic peace," lack of violence in past years.

President Shimon Peres during a meeting in Toronto 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
President Shimon Peres during a meeting in Toronto 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The gap between the Israelis and the Palestinians is "very narrow" President Shimon Peres told interviewer David Frum during his five-day State visit to Canada.
Canadian newspaper The National Post quoted Peres as saying that the Palestinians had achieved "an economic peace" and that there has not been violence between the Israelis and the Palestinians for three years. The president delivered these remarks in a live interview before  a crowd at Toronto's Sony Center for Performing Arts, at an event sponsored by the United Jewish Appeal Federation of Greater Toronto.
According to the Post, Peres recognized remaining economic and ideological divisions between Arab Israelis and Jewish Israelis, and referring to the former, commented that Arabs "won't become Zionist, and I wont ask them to become Zionist."
Highlighting an area of "total equality," the president spoke of hospitals in Israel. "I don't know why when people become healthy again they forget how to live together," he remarked. 
Addressing Iran, Peres placed hope in international sanctions: "The fact that Iran is ready to enter negotiations shows [sanctions] are having an impact,"  he said, according to the Post. He expressed a preference for using diplomatic methods over resorting to military means.
Turning to Syria, Peres reiterated the view that President Bashar Assad's days are numbered. "He's killed his own children ... he won't be forgiven," Toronto news website cited him as saying.  
In discussing the situation in the Middle East in relation to the Arab Spring, the president recalled a conversation he has had with his US counterpart. “[US President Barack] Obama asked me 'who is against democracy in the Middle East?'" said Peres. “I told him ‘the husbands.’”