Israel’s New President: “Get Rid of the Territories”

David Silverman/AFP/Getty Images

Israel’s New President: “Get Rid of the Territories”

Shimon Peres wastes no time in using his new role to hoist the white flag.

“We have to get rid of the territories,” Israel’s new president, Shimon Peres, told AP last Sunday, referring to the West Bank.

He made the statement just hours before he was sworn into his office at the Knesset on July 15. Revealing a taste of what is to come of his seven years in office, Peres then said, “I won’t make any secrets of my mind. I shall respect the minority. I shall not insult them. I changed my position [to president]. I didn’t change my beliefs and concepts.”

After the Israeli public voted against him in the prime ministerial elections of 1977, 1981, 1988 and 1996, Peres now claims the office of voice of the people. Fortunately for him, the people did not get to vote.

While the president of Israel holds a largely ceremonial role with limited political clout, it seems Peres is using this new platform to voice his “peace at any cost” agenda. As recently as yesterday, he called for peace talks with Syria.

The president’s own website states that “Out of loyalty to and responsibility for this high office, the president may neither intervene politically nor express personal views on issues that divide the public.” But Peres’s recent comments plainly disregard this job description.

Now that hardliners look to take control of the Knesset in the near future, the appointment of Peres will be a constant thorn in their side.

Back in 1996, Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu said that with Peres’s approach to negotiations with Arabs, “they [Arabs] demand everything, they get everything, and they demand more.” Peres’s latest speech of concession, offering to give away the West Bank, reveals that his views have not changed since that time.

Concessions have long proven not to bring peace in the Arab-Israeli conflict. The appointment of Shimon Peres to the presidential office is just another sign that Israel is growing weary and is well into making its final stand.