Shimon Peres, the Israeli President, has attacked Benjamin Netanyahu, saying that the Prime Minister’s unwillingness to make peace with the Muslim world risks another Palestinian uprising. In a startling intervention on the eve of Israel’s general elections, the Nobel Peace Laureate harshly criticised Netanyahu for not pursuing a peaceful settlement with the Palestinians, saying “The world’s jews want an Israel they can be proud of and not an Israel that has no borders and that is considered an occupying state”. He warned starkly that “If there is no diplomatic decision, the Palestinians will go back to terror, knives, mines, suicide attacks”.
In a series of exclusive interviews with the New York Times magazine, Peres said that in such an event, Israel faces the prospect of international isolation; “Most of the world will support the Palestinians, justify their actions, level the sharpest criticism at us, falsely label us a racist state.”
Peres rejected Netanyahu’s view of Mahmoud Abbas, saying, “I do not accept the assertion that (he) is not a good negotiating partner. To my mind, he is an excellent partner”.
Although the Netanyahu government has offered peace talks with the Palestinian Authority, it has at the same time expanded Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. The government’s recent announcement that it plans building 6,000 new homes for Jewish settlers in these areas has frustrated and angered US officials. “Obama would like to reach peace in the Middle East and has to be convinced that Israel agrees with this”, Peres said. Asked by the interviewer, “And he isn’t convinced?” Peres replied bluntly: “Of course, he’s not convinced. He demanded an end to settlements and got a negative response, and they [the Netanyahu government] are to blame for the ongoing activity in the settlements”.