(MENAFN - Emirates News Agency (WAM)) Israeli President Shimon Peres has sparked a row by his remarks on making peace with the Palestinians and the need to involve the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, in the process, A UAE daily paper commented today.
''On Sunday, he complimented Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, sparking criticism within the Likud Beiteinu party. On Monday, he said: "People ask about Hamas, why aren't we talking with Hamas? There is nothing wrong with that as long as we get an answer from them," Peres said. He clarified that in order for talks with Hamas to be possible, the Palestinian organisation must accept the International Quartet's conditions, The Gulf Today wrote in its daily editorial.
''Addressing the leaders of Christian sects ahead of the New Year, he made it clear that "Hamas and Gaza must decide what they want war or peace. Israel will be glad to see them make achievements and build. We have no satisfaction seeing citizens in Gaza suffering. If they don't fire they won't be fired on." ''According to Peres, "We are willing to talk to Hamas, but they aren't. They must accept the Quartet conditions. These are not conditions set by us, but by the international community. They must decide if they want peace or fire." ''On Sunday, Peres said: "There is a clear majority for the principle of two states for two peoples," complimenting Abbas as being "the only Arab leader who publicly stands up and says that he is for peace and against" armed resistance.
''The heated debate his comments sparked among Israeli politicians reflects the mindset of hardliners who have no interest whatsoever in making peace with the Palestinians,'' the paper said.
''Commenting on Peres' statement, Environment Protection Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) issued a statement declaring that "it is unfortunate that the president chose to present a political stance that encourages the condemnation of Israel by the international community." ''That comment makes little sense. Peres was stating the obvious. This was noted by Labour leader Shelly Yachimovich, who said: "The Likud's attack on the president is aggressive and despicable. Saying that Peres was encouraging the condemnation of Israel in the world is appalling. Peres is responsible for thwarting attacks on Israel and is its best ambassador." ''Hatnua leader Tzipi Livni also backed the president's remarks, saying: "Peres acted responsibly in telling the public the truth about Israel's status. The truth is that Israel is already an isolated country, and with no diplomatic progress it only becomes more isolated." ''That is the key problem for the Israeli hardline camp. They do not realise that their country's policies and defiance of international laws and conventions and code of conduct have already isolated it. And the isolation is growing because of its refusal to accept a fair and just peace agreement with the Palestinians,'' it remarked.
''We can only hope that the New Year might herald some changes in the Israeli hardliners' mindset,'' The Gulf Today concluded.