Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky responded on Thursday to remarks by President Shimon Peres about an Israeli strike in Iran, reminding that the role of president is a symbolic one in Israel.
“In the State of Israel the division of labor is clear: The president has a symbolic role and the prime minister and the cabinet members are the ones who make the decisions,” said Sharansky in a statement.
“It is important that this division be preserved for the sake of the democratic character of Israel and it is important that this division be maintained precisely on such important issues,” he added.
In an interview he gave to Channel 2 News on Thursday, Peres undermined Israel's aggressive position on the matter of Iran.
Asked if he trusts President Barack Obama is sincere about his intention of preventing Iran from achieving nuclear weapons, he said: "I am convinced that it is an American interest, I am convinced that (Obama) sees the American interest – he is not saying it just for our benefit. I have no doubt whatsoever in this. In conversations with him, too… And now it is clear to us that we, alone, cannot do this. We can delay… therefore it is clear to us that we need to work together with America; there are questions of coordination and there are questions of timing, but as grave as the danger is – at least this time, we are not in it alone."
Peres came under attack for his comments, as well as for reportedly also accusing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, in closed conversations, of "terrible irresponsibility" in the Iranian matter.
Sources close to Netanyahu were quoted in two news outlets as saying that "Peres forgot what the role of a president in the state of Israel is."
While the role of Israel’s president is a purely ceremonial one and not a political one, Peres has been Israel’s most political president to date, and has been accused of seeing himself as a de-facto foreign minister once again, as he was during the late Yitzchak Rabin's term of office when he engineered the disastrous Oslo Accords.
Peres has reportedly met in secret with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in the hopes of advancing his personal agenda of restarting peace negotiations.
He recently came under fire for criticizing the Jewish settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria (Yehuda and Shomron) and saying it threatened Israel’s Jewish majority.