(FOXNews)Israeli President Shimon Peres suggested that President Obama is putting too much focus on trying to halt settlement construction in the Palestinian territories, urging all sides to broaden the scope of Mideast peace talks.
Peres discussed the controversial issue with FOX News ahead of a planned summit between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
In an exclusive interview, Peres said a deal on Settlements is possible but that the issue is still unresolved, as he urged all sides not to over-emphasize the matter.
"I think it would be right for the Obama administration and for our administration and for the Palestinians to handle the whole set of steps, not a single one, because if you are singling out one, maybe the least important is becoming the most important, and that's the case of natural growth," he said, when asked if Obama was right to push early on for a settlement freeze.
"On that particular issue, there is not yet an agreement. Negotiations are going on. I do believe there is a solution for it as well. ... It must be soon. It's very hard to convince your own people to make so many concessions -- to take so many risks," the Israeli president said.
"(Netanyahu) is aware of the choice, and he knows there is no chance, no escape, no alternative to go ahead and make peace. He knows he must do it ... it's just not a simple proposition."
Peres defended Israel's right to respond to attacks from Hamas. Peres said in the interview Sunday that Israel will "reply immediately" if attacked by Hamas -- one day after Israeli Air Force planes bombed a tunnel in the northern Gaza Strip in response to a rocket fired by Palestinian militants into an Israeli town.
"They know immediately there will be retaliation," he said. "There is an unwritten game between us and them. They know if they won't respect it, they will pay heavily."
Another issue sure to come up in the Abbas-Netanyahu-Obama meeting, if it occurs, is Iran. Peres told FOX News he's convinced by intelligence he's seen that Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon, and that Israel must work to convince other nations Iran is not only a threat to Israel.
"I think that Israel must be very careful not to create the impression that Iran is a danger only to Israel," Peres said. "Iran is a world danger and Israel shouldn't monopolize this danger."