Israeli President Shimon Peres believes Mahmoud Abbas is a definite partner for peace who is “risking his life” in the positions he takes.
At the Jewish Media Summit in Jerusalem, Peres reminded journalists that Abbas had issued a strong demand for the return of the missing boys in front of foreign ministers from Arab states. “Abbas is the best partner Israel has ever had, and has now,” Peres said. “I have known him for 20 years. I think he’s a man of his word. I think he’s a man of courage.”
On Abbas’ call for the boys’ return, Peres said: “What he did right now, before a totally Arab audience in Saudi Arabia – being clear on peace, being clear on terror, risking his life – was not a simple position.”
Asked about it by the session’s moderator, Peres said he did not know of “anyone else on the Arab side who would do it”.
The Israeli president’s stance is diametrically opposed to that of right-winger Benjamin Netanyahu, whose government has blamed Abbas for the failure of the peace talks and has held him responsible for the boys’ return.
Speaking on Sunday, the Israeli PM said Abbas’ condemnation of the abduction rang hollow as long as he maintained a unity government with the Islamist group Hamas.
“His remarks will be tested not only by actions to return the boys home but by his willingness to dissolve the unity government with Hamas, which abducted the youths and calls for the destruction of Israel,” said Netanyahu.