President Shimon Peres on Monday told visiting American Jewish leaders he believes US President Barack Obama is serious about dealing with the threat of Iran’s nuclear development program.
“We are [looking forward to] the president’s visit to Israel. It is an important event for us,” Peres said at his residence in Jerusalem during a meeting with a delegation of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. “Obama’s intentions of preventing Iran from attaining nuclear weapons are serious. Iran is a menace to world peace and security, and not just to Israel.”
“There is no more important link than our relations with the United States of America; it’s essential that we maintain it and keep it bipartisan,” Peres also said, and called for a resumption of peace talks with the Palestinians.
“We must really try to make peace wherever we can and immediately,” Peres said. “I believe we can move forward with the Palestinians because none of us would like to be victims of the terror organizations Hamas and Hezbollah, or Iran. Each of us would like to live in peace.”
Peres’s statements came amid reports that the central objective of Obama’s visit will be to warn Israel against any attempt to strike Iran.
The Conference’s Executive Vice Chairman, Malcolm Hoenlein, said the Obama visit represented an opportunity for Israel to discuss its differences with the US over settlements, an issue over which there had been disagreements “all along,” he said. Noting that Israel on Monday approved 90 new homes at the settlement of Beit El — some of them for evacuees of the settlement’s demolished Ulpana neighborhood — Hoenlein said that the new building fell within the existing settlement footprint. The presidential visit would give Israel the chance to advance its argument that settlements are not an obstacle to peace,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mohammad Shatayeh, a member of the leading Palesitnian Fatah faction, reportedly rejected the possibility of a three-way summit with Obama, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and PA President Mahmoud Abbas, during Obama’s visit.
Shatayeh said that there was no chance of such a meeting because the Palestinians were not interested in ceremonies but rather wanted a halt to settlement building, the release of prisoners, and sincere negotiations, Israel Radio reported.