"making peace is a little bit like marriage [and] you have to close your eyes and accept what is possible to accept."
Last night in England, though, he had a different idea - here's what he had to say:-
To one heckler who claimed to be representing "thousands of farmers who had their land taken away by Israeli settlers" he said: "It's not bad to open the eyes and ears and keep the mouth for a later occasion."
Now, perhaps, some of those out there who can't understand why I and my friends have little respect for the man.
But, wait. He went on at another opportunity to deal with the Jewish communities located in Judea and Samaria, saying:
West Bank settlements should not be criticized, President Shimon Peres said at a press conference in the UK, Army Radio reported on Wednesday.
Peres explained that after Israel evacuated tens of settlements in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinians began firing rockets into Israeli territory.
My, my. That's a change-about.
And together with this
...Business Secretary Lord Mandelson, who extolled Britain's financial ties with Israel. Lord Mandelson's speech was closely parsed by the Israelis for any diplomatic signals. In line with Britain's newly tough position on the settlements, Lord Mandelson said: "Israel will have to take down settlements and share Jerusalem and that will be very painful but the prize will be much greater." A senior Israeli diplomat offered instant analysis: "He said 'settlements,' not 'the settlements,' that is a sign that the British understand that we will not be pulling back entirely."
I can but exult, my oh my.
But this below is from two years ago and shows a certain, if remarkable consistency clarity for Peres:-
Vice Premier Shimon Peres said on Thursday that "the government cannot evacuate more settlements in Judea and Samaria," given that Israel has continued to suffer rocket attacks since last summer's withdrawal from Gaza...Peres said that when it comes to further construction in the territories, homes are being built to support the natural growth rate.Maybe it's the English weather that clears up his mind?
"There is natural growth of settlements. The government does not fund this, it is privately financed. We cannot stop the children [of settlers from] building homes for themselves," said Peres. His spokesman added that it had been the policy of the Israeli government to allow for natural growth construction in Judea and Samaria.
Peres's statement ran counter to the agreement Israel has with the US under the road map, which calls on Israel to freeze all construction in the territories, including natural growth.
Still, when quizzed by a reporter at a press conference in London [two years ago], Peres made sure to clarify that "there is no expansion" in the West Bank and to remind reporters that Israel had dismantled four settlements in the West Bank last summer. He added: "We cannot punish ourselves twice, once by the rockets of the Palestinian and the other by fighting the settlers."
But then again, he goes fawning in Parliament on the history of the Mandate period yesterday, even missing the date of the infamous White Paper which was in 1939:
When discussing Israeli-British relations, we must always look to history. It affected our past, it may guide our future. [didn't he once say history doesn't exist anymore? yes, he did: I have become totally tired of history, because I feel history is a long misunderstanding. The Wall Street Journal, Sept. 30, 1994]
The British people were early to adopt the Bible, to explore it, teach it to their children. Biblical values were integrated into their lives and prayers. They served as a moral compass. The Ten Commandments resonate in the Magna Carta: "To no one shall we sell, to none deny or delay, right of justice" [so why can't we use the Bible to explain our rights to Shiloh, Hebron and Bet-El?]
Israel would not have a vibrant democracy if it hadn't been for the British legacy. The way in which Great Britain ran the Mandate, and its courageous fight against the Nazis, inspired the state of Israel...Our relationship was mostly illuminated, though shadows were cast from time to time, like the white paper of 38 [May 17, 1939].
The great light of the Balfour declaration will never be dimmed.
We shall remember the many British leaders who stood by Israel even in hard times. [can we remember Bevin and other more minor Foreign Office and Colonial Office clerks who almost ruined the Zionist enterprise besides helping Arabs and nazis kill Jews?] As Churchill told the Parliament during a debate about the Jewish National Home in Israel: “You have no right to support public declarations made in the name of your country in the crisis and heat of war and then afterwards, when all is cold and prosaic, to turn around.” This was the voice of Great Britain - a bastion of reason throughout human history.
The United Kingdom shaped the modern Middle East. I am not certain the story about 'divide and conquer' is right. Rule in spite of division might be a more accurate description. [like partitioning "Mandate Palestine" and removing from the Jewish National Home 78% of its territory?]
The heavens united the Middle East as the origin of the three monotheistic religions. Earth, however, divided it. Ethnic differences, old prejudices and tribal divisions have deep roots. While prayers united, swords wounded.
We never stopped praying. There was never a war without regret. Missed opportunities were lost with no return.
Peres should get his act together.