Shimon Peres on Obama, Iran and the Path to Peace

In a recent article with NYT Magazine, Israeli President Shimon Peres discusses Israel, Palestine, President Obama, Prime Minister Netanyahu, the Peace Process and much more.

“This part of the conversation is highly sensitive,” said the spokeswoman for Israel’s president. “I want all cellphones taken out of the room.” It was July 25, 2012, and I was interviewing Shimon Peres in a wood-paneled suite at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. I handed my phone to one of the guards standing at the door, and Peres swiftly opened a scathing monologue against a potential Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear sites. “Israel cannot solve the problem alone,” he said. “There is a limit to what we can do.”
Referring to the continuing tension between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama, Peres said: “I cannot tell you what Bibi’s considerations are on the subject of Iran. I am not his spokesman and also not [Defense Minister Ehud] Barak’s. That’s not my job. I am not looking for confrontations with them. I do think that I can explain the American pattern. America knows how to throw a punch when it has to, in order to keep the world balanced. But the punches follow a set procedure. They don’t begin by shooting. They try all the other means first — economic sanctions, political pressure, negotiations, everything possible.
“But in the end,” he added, “if none of this works, then President Obama will use military power against Iran. I am sure of it.”
I was surprised by Peres’s stridency. He had long been perceived as a moderating force on Netanyahu, a mediator between the prime minister and the international community that was losing patience with him. A month earlier, Obama awarded Peres the Presidential Medal of Freedom — America’s highest civilian honor. But the ceremony served only to deepen the rift between Peres and Netanyahu, and three weeks later, as reports became more frequent that Netanyahu was planning to send bombers to Iran, Peres took advantage of his 89th-birthday celebrations to speak out publicly against an attack. The prime minister’s office responded with ferocity, proclaiming, “Peres has forgotten what the president’s job is,” and recalling that in 1981, Peres opposed Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s decision to bomb Iraq’s nuclear reactor, an act that many Israelis consider a great achievement.

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