“It must be said candidly that whoever does not want the solution of two states for two peoples needs to have an alternative solution. What will come in place of it? What is the future of the State of Israel? Otherwise reality will decide the solution, not us. A bi-national state would endanger Zionism, Judaism and the democracy of the State of Israel." President Peres emphasized that according to recent polls, it seems that a majority of the nation wants peace. He added: "I am not getting into political matters but the polls show that a majority of the people want peace and that the argument is not whether it is possible, but the people are concerned and skeptical."
The President’s official residence in Jerusalem was bursting with ambassadors and heads of diplomatic missions in Israel when Mr. Shimon Peres himself hosted a unique gathering on Sunday 30th December 2012. In his address to the distinguished guests, the President spoke of Israel’s earnest resolve to achieve peace in the region.
"Great changes are taking place in the Arab world and the State of Israel is not part of them. It can take a passive stance in which decision-making is determined by the reality or Israel can take the initiative and brave steps, and thus positively influence three aspects. First, is the completion of a peace agreement with the Palestinians without delay. A clear majority of the people is in favor of the principle of two states for two peoples. I have known Abu Mazen for 30 years. He has stood up and publicly said that he favors peace and opposes terrorism. Abu Mazen's actions to thwart terrorism are brave to the point where his life is at risk. Put yourselves in his shoes and realize that his recognition of a solution to the refugee issue, and the fact that he will not return to Safed, the city of his birth, are important and courageous. There is not much time and from the perspective of probability, this is the move that could be carried out now.
President Peres stressed that through diplomacy it is possible to market strategic relations with Israel via cooperation in technology, sciences, medicine and agriculture and said: "The state of Israel has taken its lack of natural resources and turned them into advantages via human capital. Our relations with China, India, Latin America and southern Africa began, and strengthened, thanks to technology. We must continue to contribute to the world Israel's know-how and technology and thus we will continue to prevent human suffering among both our neighbors and the world. We do not enjoy it when people suffer in Gaza or die of hunger around the world. We are and remain not just a Jewish state and not just a democratic state but a humanitarian state – this is our great diplomatic strength."
President Peres also referred to the third aspect, changing the diplomacy of the State of Israel: "The goal of diplomacy has always been to make friends, not enemies. My life's experience has taught me that diplomacy is the art of the possible. Our approach must be changed to a more moderate one of dialogue. What seems impossible will become possible if we act wisely."
As a result of his words, the President was widely criticized – and acclaimed – by various political leaders in the country. His words were seen by some as overstepping the mark in his capacity as State President, thus entering the “forbidden” political public arena. On the other hand, others welcomed his words as an obvious and well-known axiom that should be stressed at every possible opportunity.
Being the diplomat that he is, President Peres would not respond to either the criticism or the praise.
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