Just a day after President Shimon Peres raised a furor over his enthusiastic endorsement of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as a leader risking his life to make peace, Peres spoke out again about the peace process.
In a speech on Monday, Peres said there was nothing wrong with talking with Hamas, and Israel would be willing to do so, but that they won’t talk with Israel.
Three conditions must be met before that could happen, however, as laid down by the Quartet: renunciation of terror, recognition of Israel and willingness to negotiate with Israel.
“They have to decide if they want peace or war,” said Peres, underscoring that Hamas cannot continue to fire rockets into Israel without retaliation on Israel’s part. “If they shoot, we shoot,” he said.
The current ceasefire with Hamas was negotiated through Egyptian officials.
Peres’s remarks were made at a Christian leadership conference, during which he noted the improved relations between Christians and Jews—the best they have been over the past 2,000 years, he said.
He also spoke of his respect for the pope, and his appreciation for the emphasis on peace and hope in a recent message.
“If one thing clearly unites all of us it is the prayer and hope for peace,” said Peres. “We all have our own ways of worship, but peace is the unifying factor.”
For his part, Greek Patriarch Theophilos III, speaking on behalf of representatives of all branches of the Christian faith, noted some deterioration in ecumenical relations in Israel, referring to recent incidents of vandalism against churches, apparently by extremist elements.
Theophilos commended Peres for his condemnation of “the sacrilegious acts that have been directed against the sacred gift of freedom of worship that we enjoy in our Holy Land.”