President Shimon Peres revealed on Monday that three years ago he reached a peace agreement with Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
Speaking to Channel 2 News in a special interview on the occasion of Yom Ha’atzmaut (Independence Day), Peres said that his contacts with Abbas were made on behalf of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, but that at the last minute, Netanyahu changed his mind and the agreement fell through.
President Peres also revealed that the agreement included the PA’s recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and understandings regarding borders and the issue of the so-called “right of return”.
"We reached understandings on several points," he told Channel 2. "We were supposed to reach a final agreement but Netanyahu thought that there was a better brought forth by [Quartet envoy] Tony Blair."
"I didn’t think that Tony Blair could bring as good an offer as the one I brought," added the Peres. "We took out maps. Instead of talking about the pre-1967 borders, we talked about the size of the area. This would have allowed land swaps, establishments of settlement blocs and the like.”
Peres’s meeting with Abbas are nothing new. Three years ago it was revealed that Peres and Abbas had held four secret meetings in a bid to revive stalled peace talks.
Back then, too, it was revealed that a fifth meeting between the two had been scheduled in Amman, but Peres cancelled it, saying that “the government does not accept that we negotiate and I cannot do anything.”
Israel's president's role is defined as ceremonial and apolitical, but Peres, more than any other president in Israel's history, has ignored that and has several times made statements that are contrary to the views of Israel’s elected government.
In addition, Peres has continued to insist that talks continue, even after they were torpedoed by the PA.