Peres: I oppose the use of military force against Iran

“I do not support military action against Iran, but the world must become a united front and impose harsh economic sanctions on Iran,” President Shimon Peres said Friday.

President Shimon Peres.

President Shimon Peres.
Photo: AP

Speaking at the Ambrosetti Forum, an annual gathering of global political and business leaders in this Italian lakeside resort, Peres said that most of the Arab states were opposed to Iran having nuclear weapons, and the world at large would not allow terrorists and extremists to have nuclear weapons of mass destruction at their disposal.

He went on to say that the world would not permit fanatics to hold nuclear weapons, and that he was certain that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and the incoming elected president of the United States would share that opinion, as would the leaders of Europe. “It is up to all of us to stop the Iranian threat,” he said.

Iran today, the president went on, does not represent its magnificent history, but rather stands for extremism and religious fanaticism, and presents a tangible and existential danger to the Middle East and the entire world.

Peres also expressed his support for indirect peace talks with Syria, currently being mediated by Turkey. He suggested that Syrian President Bashar Assad make a move like that of former-Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, whose visit to Jerusalem in 1977 resulted in the signing of a peace agreement between Israel and Egypt in 1979.

“I think if President Assad will visit in Israel or alternatively invite the prime minister of Israel to go to Damascus we shall see a major change,” he told the gathering.

“I believe the best way is to start with a meeting and then have negotiations.”

Responding to comments made by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the same conference about the possibility of a peace agreement by the end of the year, Peres said, “We have to try to reach agreement… we have to act on the supposition that it is possible.”

Peres referred also to the upcoming elections in the Palestinian Authority and noted that democracy should be implemented not only on election day but perhaps more importantly, on the day after.

It was unacceptable, he said, for any party to use democratic tools to impose a military dictatorship, terrorism, murder and fanatic religious coercion.

Peres underscored that Hamas should not be allowed to participate in the elections while it continued to carry out a policy of terror.

AP contributed to this report.

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