At a memorial service for the late president and peace champion Shimon Peres on Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu swiped at a peace summit that took place in Paris a day earlier, saying a final settlement will not be achieved at “futile” conferences or be imposed on the Jewish state.
“Peace will not be achieved by force or from above, not at futile conferences, and not by foreign diktats,” he told the Knesset plenary. “It can only be achieved in direct negotiations between the sides.”
The one-day Paris summit came to a close with a statement calling on Israel and the Palestinians to restate their commitment to a peace settlement and to refrain from unilateral actions.
The Knesset plenum held the memorial service for Paris, who died in September at the age of 93, at the request of his family. President Reuven Rivlin, Chief Justice Miriam Naor, Bank of Israel Governor Karnit Flug, former prime minister Ehud Barak, and Peres’s three children were among the attendees in the mostly full hall.
The 45-minute ceremony began with a moment of silence for the elder statesman.
Arab lawmakers, who had skipped Peres’s funeral in protest, stayed for the memorial and stood to honor of his memory.
In his later years, “Shimon spoke about a new Middle East, in which peace is the solution,” said Netanyahu. “Unfortunately, this has not come to pass.”
“Alongside our aspirations for peace, we must constantly bolster our [military] strength,” he maintained, adding that he believes Peres would agree.
The prime minister hailed Peres’s contribution to the State of Israel, particularly on matters of defense.
In his speech, opposition leader Herzog lauded Peres as “one of the greatest leaders of the Jewish people in recent generations.”
“Not necessarily because of his political leadership,” he added, “but due to his groundbreaking activities in all areas,” including defense, welfare, the economy, and education. But I think that above all, Shimon Peres will be remembered in Israel’s history books as one who looked reality in the eye and rather than be deterred or try to keep it as is, he chose to change it.”