President Shimon Peres reaffirmed Israel’s refusal to deal with Hamas in a special press conference for Israel’s 60th anniversary.
Mr Peres said that “talking to Hamas is like talking to the wall. If it wasn’t for Hamas and its criminal behaviour, the Palestinians long ago would have a state. You must not forget that we left Gaza and the area, and all the time, Hamas is shooting at women and children in Israel. We don’t want to hurt innocent population, we transfer food, fuel and medicine to the population in Gaza, but we cannot overlook the fact that Hamas is causing great harm to its people.”
Despite reaffirming his belief in the foundation of a Palestinian state, he refused to be drawn on details of where the new state borders might be or on a future solution in Jerusalem.
He also commented on the recent reports of talks between Israel and Syria, saying: “If Damascus wants to talk, Israel is also interested. Israel is willing to pay a price as it did in the past.”
Mr Peres also said that he does not favour a military strike against Iran. “But we have to set up quickly and resolutely an international a strong and aggressive international coalition of the world’s nations that will put heavy economical sanctions on Iran. Iran’s efforts to gain nuclear arms should worry the entire world.”
Mr Peres began his address to the 120 reporters representing major media organisations with his own summary of the state’s history. He expressed wonder that despite agreeing to the UN partition plan, and being attacked by seven Arab armies, “the three major powers, the United States, Britain and France, refused to sell us rifles”.
When asked what he believed to be his major achievements, he listed forging the alliance with France in the 1950s and 1960s, which allowed Israel to build its armed forces and military industry.
Asked whether he thought all the Jews of the world should live in Israel, he said: “We can’t make anyone live in Israel, but if someone wants to live to the full Jewish sense and heritage, that is only possible in Israel.”