Peres says Israel has responsibility to defend itself

As he meets with Quarter representative Tony Blair, President Shimon Peres releases a statement on the fighting in Gaza:

Yesterday Egypt suggested a ceasefire to open a window of opportunity to bring the fighting to an end. This morning the Israeli Security Cabinet accepted the ceasefire. The fire until now brought nothing but death and damage. Hamas isolated itself, the world calls upon them to end the fire. If they continue despite the proposal they will only bring more suffering to their people.

Israel will continue to defend itself – it is our moral responsibility and our sovereign right. Terrorists aim to kill innocent civilians. Mothers and children. Jews and Arabs. However, the rockets did not achieve their aim. The strength of our army, our technological edge and the courage of our people allows Israel to stand strong.

The Israeli public, mothers and children, stood steadfast and with great restraint in the face of this ongoing provocation. Yesterday I met a group of children from one of the communities that was hit hard. They continue to smile, they sing and they dance. They are the proof that terror will not win.

There are two camps. The camp of terror and the camp of peace. Not only here but across the world. This operation is an answer to the camp of terror. The IDF targeted hundreds of rocket launchers, training camps and tunnels. We all wish to lower the flames, we want an end to the fighting and we hope to see it soon. But there can be no compromise with terror. A ceasefire must be on these terms. No more rockets. No more terror.

Many of our neighbors stand with us in this fight. It is a global threat and we must fight it globally. Terror is destroying the fabric of the Arab world, it harms those who allow it as much as those it targets.

I want to thank Mr. Blair for his involvement and support. And thank the leaders of the world who support our right to defend ourselves.

We must turn again to the camp of peace. We stand loud and clear for peace with our neighbors. The Palestinian people are not our enemies, the people of Gaza are not our enemies. We share the same aim which is an end to terror. Security and calm for civilians everywhere.

A return to peace talks to achieve the only viable, long term solution – two states for two peoples. I want to say something to the people of Gaza. This operation was the third major escalation in the past 6 years. Each time it is innocent civilians that suffer and pay the price.

Rockets and terror bring you no closer to your national aspirations. Terrorism will not deliver for the Palestinian people. We withdrew from Gaza unilaterally, of our own free will. Gaza had an opportunity to become a flourishing place, a great economy. Instead Hamas overpowered the Palestinian Authority and instead of investing in their people, they wasted money on rockets and tunnels. Without reason, without purpose and without results.

The children of Gaza deserve the same opportunities as children everywhere which is to be secure and free. But Hamas continues to hold them hostage. They seek death over life. They seek destruction over growth. They act out of hate and are bringing a tragedy upon their own people.

President Abbas is not only a partner for Israel but is the best hope for the Palestinians for a future of stability, respect, independence and prosperity. He is a man of peace, a responsible leader.

This is a time for peace, not war. Our hand will always be raised to defend ourselves against those who seek to harm us. And stretched out in friendship to those who seek peace.