Peres: Olmert erred in setting goals for war

President insists Second Lebanon War was defensive; on Livni, says certain statements can be too harsh.

peres head shot 224 88 (photo credit: AP [file])
peres head shot 224 88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert erred in setting unrealistic goals for the Second Lebanon War last year, President Shimon Peres said Thursday, adding that the government would have been better advised to maintain throughout the war that it was a defensive campaign. "It was a mistake to say what the objectives of the war were," Peres said in an interview with Israel Radio. "We didn't initiate the war. It must be stated in a straightforward fashion that we were attacked and we defended ourselves. The whole picture would then have changed." However, Peres said, "Olmert saw what happened and I am sure he has learned his lesson." "If they hadn't fired missiles at us, the truth is, we would not have gone to war. We were forced into war. The whole perspective would have changed, but I don't want to go any deeper than that, it isn't my job, we'll wait for Winograd," the president said, referring to a final report on the failures in the war's management. Peres was asked, in his capacity as former foreign minister, whether recent remarks made by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni criticizing of Egypt's laxity in preventing weapons smuggling into the Gaza Strip were inappropriate. "In my opinion the foreign minister also spoke positively of Egypt, and I think that what happened was that only part of her words were quoted, which slightly warped the meaning of her remarks," Peres said. "A foreign minister has to express her opinion on a daily basis, so sometimes it can happen that a certain statement can be a little too harsh, but these things will eventually settle." Livni had told the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that " Egypt's performance on the Gaza border is awful and problematic. The weapons smuggling lowers the chances that pragmatic factions in Gaza and the West Bank will regain control." Sheera Claire Frenkel contributed to this report.