MK Moti Yogev (Bayit Yehudi) criticized President Shimon Peres Monday evening over his speech in the Knesset earlier. Yogev said that Peres had politicized his speech beyond what was reasonable, and had increased divisiveness among Israelis.
In his speech, Peres congratulated the government for entering into talks with the Palestinian Authority. “As Jews, we are commanded to pursue peace and not to wait for miracles that will bring it. We have peace with Egypt and peace with Jordan.
“Negotiating with the Palestinians is not just in our security, political, and economic interests, but also the highest moral command, as directed by our heritage,” Peres said.
Last month, Peres said that Israel must do “everything possible” to established a PA state.
Speaking to Army Radio on the 20th anniversary of the Oslo Accords, Peres said that Oslo was the “right choice” for Israel, despite the hundreds killed by Arab terrorists since the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993.
Speaking Monday, Yogev said that “between the Mediterranean and the Jordan there is only one state, and that is Israel, the Jewish democratic state, and with that we shall ensure security, stability, and peace for all Israelis,” he said.
Israel's presidency is a ceremonial, apolitical office. The president is technically the head of state, and represents all Israelis, as opposed to the Prime Minister, who is head of government.
But this is not the first time Peres has been accused of inappropriately politicizing his office.
In a controversial speech last year, Peres angered many on the right when he argued that Jewish settlement in majority-Arab areas risks Israel’s Jewish majority.
The President has also stood accused of promoting a left-wing agenda, after repeatedly telling media outlets that Israel must encourage the creation of an Arab state in Judea and Samaria with “territorial continuity.”
Prior to the start of the current round of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Peres reportedly met in secret with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, on a personal but highly controversial mission to restart talks.