Minister Gilad Erdan said on Sunday afternoon that once again, President Shimon Peres is interfering in diplomatic matters when he knows very well that it is not appropriate for him to do so, in his role of what is supposed to be a non-partisan President.
“Out of respect to the office of the President I will only discuss the actual comments that he made,” Erdan said of Peres' speech earlier Sunday to Israeli and foreign diplomatic staff. “It is very unfortunate that the President would express personal political opinions that are not at all in tandem with the desires of the Israeli people,” said Erdan, chairman of the Likud information committee.
In his speech, Peres said that Israel had “no choice” but to pursue the “two state solution with Abu Mazen (PA chief Mahmoud Abbas) representing the Palestinians, because he is the only Palestinian leader who agrees with many of the basic things Israel seeks in a settlement.” Peres added that a “final status settlement with the Palestinians must be completed without delay. There is clear majority among Israelis for the two state solution. I know Abu Mazen for 30 years. We do not support every word he has said and we have some criticism, but I know the reality, and the reality is that Abu Mazen is the one and only Arab leader who has said that he is in favor of peace and against terror,” Peres said.
Besides saying that there was no place for the President to make the overtly political claims and statements that he did, Erdan accused Peres of stating inaccuracies as well. “Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has asked Abu Mazen dozens of times to return to the negotiating table,” Erdan said. “He has also taken many actions to encourage him to do so, but he has absolutely refused.” Abbas even refused the generous offers tendered by former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Erdan added.
“Abbas acts against Israel at every possible opportunity,” Erdan explained. “It's a shame that the President did not explain to the staff how he reconciles Abu Mazen's statements with the fact that he not once even condemned the firing of rockets by Hamas and Gaza Arab terrorists against Israel.”