Countering recent comments by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, President Shimon Peres on Monday praised Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as a serious peace partner while expressing hope for successful talks.
“President Abbas is a man of principle, he is against terror, against violence,” Peres said in a meeting with Congolese human rights activist, UN Humanitarian Award winner Rose Mapendo. “He is a good partner and I’m glad that our government is negotiating with him. Disagreements are normal but we also agree on opposition to terrorism.”
In an interview on Saturday, Ya’alon said there would not be peace in his era and decried Abbas as someone who is not a partner for a final agreement.
He also implied that US Secretary of State John Kerry had failed to act as an honest broker on the issue of releasing Arab Israeli prisoners.
Peres’s comments came while Abbas was in Washington for discussions with US President Barack Obama on ongoing peace negotiations.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu had a good meeting with President Obama a few weeks ago and now we wait to see what will happen with President Abbas,” Peres said, according to a statement released by his office. “It is in the interest of all of us to a find a way out of the disagreements; we’re hopeful but concerned because there are crucial decisions to make in the coming weeks.”
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Israel’s top negotiator in talks with the Palestinian Authority, chastised Ya’alon on Sunday evening over his comments, saying “grumbling and despairing is easy…our responsibility is to change reality.”
Peres continued to refute Ya’alon’s words, albeit in a less direct manner than Livni, saying that both Israelis and Palestinians long for peace.
“Negotiations are difficult and sometimes it seems as if there are only two options but often there are more, negotiations are a process of creation,” he said. “We are all waiting for peace, it is the wish of the Israeli and Palestinian people.”
Abbas is expected to discuss the US framework agreement draft and the possibility of extending the July deadline for the talks while meeting with Obama later Monday.
He met on Sunday with Kerry, who pushed him to work to narrow the gaps between the Palestinian and Israeli negotiating positions.
The Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.