Friday, November 25, 2011

Peres: 'Violence in Egypt is cause for concern, but Israel mustn't meddle'

Yori Yalon-IsraelHayom).In a special interview conducted during his historic visit to Vietnam – the first by an Israeli president to the southeast Asian country – Peres said that he was closely following the events in Cairo.
"Egypt is in the midst of a very difficult transitional stage, and I am extremely concerned, Egypt has never experienced this kind of thing, so the revolution is not as well organized as it could be. But I think that Egypt has enough reasons to maintain peace, and we are on good terms with [military ruler Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein] Tantawi."

"The more organized groups will probably win the [upcoming Egyptian] election, but by definition these groups are the ones that can solve the real problems facing the Arab world. The best thing for us to do is shut up and stay out of Egypt's business."
The Palestinians have begun inching toward a Fatah-Hamas unity government. How should Israel respond?

"Israel should reach an agreement with the Palestinians, under the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas, as soon as possible. It could work. Almost all the windows of opportunity have closed except for the window with the Palestinians, but I don't know how much longer it will remain open. There are fundamental differences between Hamas, a religious party, and Fatah, a political party. Hamas opposes negotiations with Israel while Fatah is in favor of talks. Hamas employs terror, while Fatah denounces it. Hamas doesn't want peace, and Fatah does. If Fatah should relinquish their basic principles it would be suicidal, and Hamas is not likely to compromise, so it would be best for us to focus on the light side of the moon."

Israel has suspended the transfer of tax payments to the Palestinians in protest against the acceptance of “Palestine” as a member of UNESCO. Do you support this move?

"I think Israel should transfer these funds, and I have reason to believe that the money will in fact be turned over. We should try to look at the bigger picture: What's happening in the Middle East is not some small detail that stopped working or a pipe that got clogged; it's a historic decision – what direction the Arab world will take. What we can contribute by ending the conflict between ourselves and the Palestinians."

You have vehemently urged the nations of the world to take action to prevent the development of an Iranian nuclear weapon. It appears that the international sanctions are extremely limited. Is Israel alone in this battle?

"Israel must take worldwide action to make everyone understand the gravity of this issue. We mustn't give up. The American media has called for harsher sanctions against Iran and [French President Nicolas] Sarkozy has also made comments on the issue. There are those who believe that Iran will back down at the last minute, but I don't believe that. If Iran does not give up its quest for nuclear weapons, world leaders will have no choice but to respond. They mustn't be let off the hook."