Jerusalem - Israel's president has warned that the Palestinians are liable to launch a new uprising if the Jewish state doesn't do more to try to reach a peace accord, stepping up his criticism of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of Jan. 22 elections.They also run the risk of encouraging Islamic violence. And what if Peres tries to undermine Netanyahu's ability to form a coalition after the election? He is interfering, and is proving potentially damaging to Israel even when he's so old.
The presidency in Israel is a ceremonial position and presidents generally refrain from political statements. But this was the second time in less than two weeks that President Shimon Peres' criticisms of Netanyahu's approach to the Palestinians have found an international platform.
"If there is no diplomatic decision, the Palestinians will go back to terror. Knives, mines, suicide attacks," Peres was quoted as saying in Wednesday's edition of the New York Times magazine.
"Even if the local inhabitants do not want to resume the violence, they will be under the pressure of the Arab world," he said, adding that most of the world is likely to support the Palestinians, not Israel.
Late last month, Peres, a Nobel Peace laureate, criticized Netanyahu at a meeting of foreign ambassadors, calling Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas a reliable peace partner and saying Israeli diplomacy must change "from an aggressive approach to a moderate approach of dialogue."
Netanyahu's Likud Party released a statement in that case calling Peres out of touch and Abbas a "peace rejecter," saying that the president's remarks to a diplomatic audience encouraged international condemnation of Israel.
Update: Jonathan Tobin says that Peres's stubborn refusal to let go of his illusions are just why a conservative victory is inevitable. We must certainly hope so.