Israel: Peres criticises Netanyahu, 'stupid to ignore PA'

PM 'flirts' with settlers and irritates US, president tells NYT

10 January, 19:15

(ANSAmed) - ROME, JANUARY 10 - Today's images show both smiling amid snowmen and snowballs in a Jerusalem whiter than it had been for years; however, this may very well be the only thing the two Israeli leaders have in common. Today, 12 days short of the January 22 Israeli elections, the president has launched an attack at the prime minister from the columns of the New York Times. Peres claims that Netanyahu is leaving Israel open to the risk of another intifada due to his delaying tactics - if not actual filibustering - as concerns the eternal dossier of talks with Palestinians. After a previous heated exchange with the head of the government on the possibility of a military attack on Iran, Peres has once again lashed out at him against the backdrop of an election campaign in which Netanyahu (at the head of the right-wing Likud-Beitenu list) is courting ever more the far-right settlers of the Occupied Territories, despite the fact that this increases tension with the Palestinian Authority (PA) under Mahmoud Abbas and irritates its vital ally, the US. This attitude, in the eyes of the almost ninety-year-old head of state, reflects the temptation to engage in a dangerous rejection of diplomacy as an option. And this, in turn, will sooner or later spark more violence and terrorism, within a situation in which Israel is ever more isolated. In an interview granted to the NYT - leading to an immediate reaction in Israel itself - Peres claimed that Netanyahu is not able to convince US president Barack Obama that he sincerely wants peace. ''The idea that history is a horse which can be held by the tail is stupid,'' he said, adding that ''the tranquility that Israel has enjoyed over the past few years will not last'', that ''conflict may be sparked once more'' and - in this latter case - ''the situation would spin out of control''. The message seems clear: not engaging in dialogue with Mahmoud Abbas (criticised today once again by Netanyahu for having resumed ''reconciliation'' talks with Khlaed Meshaal, leader of the Hamas radical Islamic faction, in Cairo) simply means hiding the dispute under the rug and letting the consequences be dealt with by whoever comes afterwards. The comments were seen by the prime minister as going beyond the institutional prerogatives of Peres, putting the blame once more on Palestinian Authority leaders for the lasting deadlock in negotiations. However, Peres (an important Zionist leader and champion of longevity in the political arena) is not the only one to criticise Netanyahu and the nationalist-led coalition supporting him. Criticism of the government's handling of the Palestinian issue have poured down over the past few months even from top-level former military and intelligence leaders. (ANSAmed).

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