Israel is facing the first real chance to reach peace with the Palestinians due to Hamas’ behavior, local daily The Jerusalem Post quoted President Shimon Peres as saying Tuesday.
The movement’s ambitions to enforce a radical rule over the region would influence 90 percent of Israelis and Palestinians alike who would not wish to live under such a reign, he explained at a conference marking the 10th anniversary of the Peres Center for Peace.
"If we come closer to the Palestinians, the Arab world will support peace. It’s doable, it’s possible. We have never been closer to peace than we are today," he was quoted as saying, stressing that current gaps in negotiations with the Palestinians are bridgeable.
He added that his nation "will not cease to negotiate with the Palestinians and help them with all our might in order to establish an independent Palestinian state with a real economy."
"The better the life is for the Palestinians, the better it will be for us and we want to see the Palestinians as a neighbor and not as an enemy," said the 85-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
However, little tangible progress has been achieved since Israeli and Palestinian leaders pledged 11 months ago at a U.S.-sponsored conference in Annapolis to reach a comprehensive peace deal within 2008, as the talks have been hampered by the conflict between Hamas and Fatah on the Palestinian side and the recent political turmoil on the Israeli side.
The already sluggish peace process suffered another strong blow in recent days as the Jewish state embarked on the road to an early general election, which means that Israel is still three months away from setting up a new government, a scenario that could wipe off any hope of the Annapolis goal.