In an address to the pro-Israel lobby Aipac in Washington, President Shimon Peres said on Monday that the current Israeli government seeks peace and will honor Jerusalem’s previous commitments as they relate to the peace process with the Palestinians.
“Benjamin Netanyahu was at one time my political opponent,” Peres told the annual Aipac conference. “Today, he is my prime minister. He knows history and wants to make history. In our tradition, making history is making peace, and I am sure that peace is his priority.”
The president praised Barack Obama as a man capable of bringing peace to the region. “I am convinced [Obama] has the capacity to turn the crises into opportunity,” Peres said. “May I say to president Obama — you are young enough to offer hope to the world and great enough to bring it to life.”
Peres also expressed satisfaction at the “u-turn” in the attitudes of Arab states toward peace with Israel as reflected in the Saudi initiative, though he did qualify his comments by saying: “Israel wasn’t a partner to the wording of this initiative. Therefore it doesn’t have to agree to every word.”
“Nevertheless, Israel respects the profound change, and hopes it will be translated into action,” Peres added. “I trust that the leadership of President Obama will pave the way to both to a regional agreement and meaningful bilateral negotiations.”
“Israel stands with her arms outstretched, and her hands held open to peace with all nations, with all Arab states, with all Arab people.” the president declared.
“To those still holding a clenched fist I have just one word to say: Enough. Enough war. Enough destruction. Enough hatred. Now is the time for change,” said Peres. Israel is prepared today to bring peace closer. Today.”
The president also lashed out at the Iranian regime for casting a “shadow of a nuclear threat” over the entire Middle East.
“Let me be clear: The fanatic rulers of Iran are on the wrong side of history,” Peres said. “Actually, they are outside of history.”
“We have respect for the Iranian people and its tradition. Historically, Iran sought to enrich mankind. Today, alas, Iran’s rulers enrich uranium.”
“The aggressiveness of the Iranian government is not limited to Israel. Indeed, they seek regional hegemony and want to control Arab states using terror and coercion.”