Peres will keep doing what comes naturally after presidential term ends

“A man who wants to serve the public does not ask himself what to be, but what to do," Peres said at Post's diplomatic conference.

peres linde 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
peres linde 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
With nine months of his seven year tenure left in which to serve, President Shimon Peres is frequently asked what he will do after he stops being president. He was asked again on Thursday by Steve Linde, Editor in Chief of The Jerusalem Post at the publication’s second annual diplomatic conference at the Daniel Hotel, Herzliya.
“I won’t stop doing because I stop being president,“ Peres replied. “ A man who wants to serve the public does not ask himself what to be, but what to do.”
Asked by Linde if he thought Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was bluffing, Peres stated that it was all part of a new puzzle. People voted for Rouhani not because he was a total revolutionary, he said, but because of all the candidates, he was the least extreme and represented a moderate position.
The Iranians want to become the hegemony of the Middle East, Peres continued, but today there is no Middle East, because wherever one goes there is no unity, no coherent country. “Terrorism is splitting up the Middle East.”
Peres questioned Rouhani’s contention that Iran’s nuclear program is designed for peaceful purposes. “If you don’t want nuclear bombs, why do you have missiles? Why do you need nuclear carriers?” Taking into account Iran’s economic crisis, the fact that people are hungry and that there’s a brain drain, Peres was inclined to think that the Iranian leadership fears that there might be an Iranian Spring.
In the event of such a development, he was not sure who would win, but was certain that a re-alliance of outside powers is needed because there must be a more united stand against terror which Peres opined will increase over the next decade as America takes over from the Middle East as the world’s largest supplier of oil and gas. The Middle East will then become the biggest producer of terror, he predicted as he emphasized that “pacification is a must.”
Peres was critical of the fact that in a rapidly changing world decision makers continue to talk as if nothing has changed.
Responding to a question as to whether he agreed with MK Avigdor Liberman, chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that there is no peace partner on the Palestinian side, Peres said that he did not agree with Liberman. “Ïf you want peace, you have to make a partner out of a non-partner.”
He has known Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for thirty years he said, and he would ask Liberman if he knows of any other Arab leader who says that he was born in Safed but has no wish to return there. Peres was convinced that Abbas has not given up his hope for peace. Acknowledging that there are points of disagreement, Peres said there was enough material to open up negotiations.
Peres also disagreed with those members of Knesset who want to change what constitutes a majority when voting on the future of Jerusalem. Throughout his own 48 years in the Knesset he said, he always had doubts about privilege laws, because it is wrong to allow 55 people to decide what 80 people had previously decided. Next time instead of 55 it could be 45, he warned.
Fielding a question from an overseas admirer about how to deal with Israel’s poor image, Peres said “I don’t feel any hostility from a small country like China or India or the Vatican”. Israel is admired for its scientific capability and its achievements he said, and compared to other countries, Israel was not in bad shape.
Peres, who is a veteran reader of The Jerusalem Post, said that it was a responsible and consistent spokesman for Israel without losing its journalistic objectivity.