"Instead of being afraid of the black smoke of Iran, we must begin anew to advance peace."
By GREER FAY CASHMAN
There is no point in delaying peace, President Shimon Peres told members of the Druse community on Sunday during a visit to Nabbi Shua’yb, the burial place of the Prophet Jethro north of Tiberias.Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, is regarded by the Druse as one of the holiest of prophets.Points of dispute with the Palestinians were on the brink of being resolved, the president said.“We are offering them a logical solution, a solution of compromise,” he said. “Instead of waiting, we must resume peace negotiations. Instead of being afraid of the black smoke of Iran, we must begin anew to advance peace. The gaps between us and the Palestinians are not so great that they cannot be bridged. Israel is interested in peace with the whole of the Arab world, and is interested in the success of a future independent, respected and economically stable Palestinian state. This kind of a reality will be beneficial to the entire region.”Peres told his hosts that the Druse are highly valued citizens ofIsrael. Aware of the frustrations of those members of the community whofind it difficult to enter institutions of higher learning or to getgood jobs, the president said that all doors must be opened to theDruse community – doors of higher education, employment, and housing aswell as those of equal opportunity.He indicated that he would make it one of his priorities to ensure thatIsrael’s Druse would enjoy the highest standard of living of any Drusecommunity in the world.Peres’s adviser on minority affairs is Kamal Mansour, a Druse, and thepresident’s military aide is Brig.-Gen. Hasson Hasson, who is Mansour’sson-in-law.
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