Right-wing lawmakers attack President Shimon Peres for statement that the demand for Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state is “unnecessary” – Minister Yuval Steinitz: Without recognition, there will not be peace.
President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the flight to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Wednesday | Photo credit: Kobi Gideon / GPO
Likud ministers and right-wing MKs on Wednesday blasted President Shimon Peres for his statements that the demand for the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state is “unnecessary.” Peres made these statements in closed-door talks, the contents of which were reported by Israel Hayom on Wednesday.
A political source on Wednesday said that, even though Peres did not make these statements publicly, many individuals had heard them. “This is an act that should not be done,” the source said.
“The demand for a Jewish state is meant to ensure that this will be an end to the conflict and that the Palestinians will not make any more demands after the agreement,” said Homefront Defense Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud), responding to Peres.
“It is unfortunate that Peres has yet again expressed policy that makes progress in the negotiations harder to achieve. We have a prime minister who was elected by the people and I do not understand why the president is interfering in diplomatic matters all the time.”
Strategic Affairs, Intelligence and International Relations Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) said, “Every negotiation for peace starts with mutual recognition. [The Palestinians] still haven’t recognized the existence of the Jewish people and its right to a state of its own. That’s the heart of the conflict. As long as the Palestinians do not recognize us as a Jewish state, there will not be peace, it will be a joke.”
Deputy Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) said the president was “sticking his head in the sand.”
“Dividing Israel is more important to Peres than peace,” said Hotovely. “His disregard for the consistent refusal of the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state is sticking his head in the sand, ignoring the true face of the enemy.”
Labor MK Amar Bar-Lev, meanwhile, supported Peres, who was a long-time Labor MK.
“The prime minister’s insistence on the recognition of the Jewish state is wearing away at the branch he, and we, are sitting on,” said Bar-Lev.
In an interview on Army Radio on Wednesday, Peres advisor Nadav Tamir tried to elucidate the president’s views.
“The president was talking about the fact that there’s a sense of urgency, that we have a partner, a determined American mediator, and we must seize the opportunity and take advantage of it,” said Tamir, who hinted that Peres himself felt that the publication of his statements was an unforeseen mishap.
“The president does not speak publicly about his opinions on the negotiations,” Tamir said.
What Peres fails to understand
By Nadav Shragai, ISRAEL HAYOM