3 Dec 2009

Israeli President Shimon Peres: Israel will take part in Middle East conference if Hamas isn‘t there

Israel will take part in the conference on the Middle East in Moscow if representatives of Hamas are not invited, Israeli President Shimon Peres said.

"Why not? I am all for this initiative, but only in acceptable framework, that is, without Hamas or other terrorist organizations. We will be happy to take part in such an event," Peres said.

"I doubt very much that the organizers, knowing our position and knowing that we will not come in this case [the participation of Hamas], take such a step. I am confident that our demands will be met," he said.

Speaking about the role of Russia in the Middle East peace process, Peres said, "It does not bother me at all that Russia favors some Arab countries and our neighbors. We want to favor them too. We are not making it a prerequisite that friendship with Israel is only possible if there is no cooperation with the Arab world. On the contrary, we are for friendly and peaceful relations with Arab countries," he said.

"Everyone wants peace, but it is a very long process. For this reason, in my view, it should be Israel‘s position to solve those problems that can be solved at a given moment. I believe this issue will be one of the central issues addressed in our meeting with Dmitry Medvedev. I think the Russian president has spoken in favor of the peace initiative as such, in support of the peace process. And we will discuss with him in Russia what precisely this peace process should look like," Peres said.

"I believe it is very important that a coalition of leaders and countries promoting peace initiatives, a so-called coalition for peace is now being formed in the world. In my view, Russia plays a key role in these processes because it has special weight in global issues such as nuclear disarmament and Iran‘s nuclear issue. Today‘s Russian administration is very positive and responsible about the negotiations on these matters at all levels. We can have productive dialogue with them. I have already met with Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin and was deeply impressed," Peres said.

"I am convinced that the [Middle East] peace process is at the threshold of very interesting continuation and evolution," Peres said.

The recent Fatah congress in Bethlehem "will have a positive impact on the peace process," he continued.

"The new Fatah leadership is not devoid of pragmatism and I am sure that Mahmoud Abbas [leader and president of the Palestinian National Authority] will soon restart the peace talks," the Israeli president said.

"The Arab world resents the ayatollahs‘ totalitarian authority and it does not want them to influence the future of the Middle East region. This is the new reality of the present-day Middle East," he said.

"I am not saying that everything is ideal. There has always been and there will always be obstacles. But one cannot fail to notice that the obstacles have now been coupled with new opportunities. The time has come for new and promising ideas to arrive," Peres said.