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Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres: 'Israel Is Not Czechoslovakia Of 1938'

Peres: 'The U.S. Has Blocked Nuclear Weapons Programs in Ukraine, Libya, South Africa & North Korea... It Will Also Stop Iran'

'I Believe Prime Minister Olmert Will Survive Findings of Winograd Enquiry Into War With Hezbollah'

Shimon Peres (photo: Amit Shabi)

Several European countries have indicated they will recognize Hamas cabinet ministers in the new Palestinian government.  In Gaza, a senior Norwegian diplomat has met with Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh who has declared his support for 'resistance' - that is terrorism against Israel. Hamas also claimed responsibility for the shooting of an Israeli electricity worker who was repairing a power line that supplies electricity to the Gaza Strip. The Israeli was seriously wounded. In addition, more Qassam rockets have been fired into Israel  from Gaza. In Jerusalem, IsraCast asked Deputy Premier Shimon Peres  if there were now a danger  that  European countries will try and appease the Hamas government  by selling out Israel, like Czechoslovakia to Nazi Germany in 1938?

'We are  not Czechoslovakia of 1938' - that's the reaction of Deputy Premier Shimon Peres to several European countries that talk of recognizing the government of Hamas which still threatens to annihilate the Jewish state. IsraCast asked Peres if there werenot a trend in Europe today that recalls the European sellout of Czechoslovakia to Nazi Germany. Peres said: 'There are trends and trends and decisions and decisions. The Europeans have to decide whether they permit terror ornot and whether they want to force Israel to give up her character and become a Palestinian state'. Peres went on to say that none could dictate either to Israel or the Palestinians. This meant there would have to be negotiations and the Europeans would also have to decide where they stood. Peres said: 'I don't see the Europeans deciding to impose a solution nor will  permit or justify terror or force Israel to stop being a Jewish state'

IsraCast :Is there a trend here in Europe bypassing, ready to accept Hamas, that recalls what happened in Czechoslovakia in '38?

Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres:   No. We are notCzechoslovakia . Trends are trends and decisions are decisions. Europe has to decide whether they permit terror ornot, whether they want to force upon Israelto give up its character and become a Palestinian state, and whether they can dictate, if anybody can dictate either to us or the Palestinians, that we have to negotiate. Europe has to decide on those three questions, and I don't see them deciding that they will impose this solution, or they will justify or permit terror, or they will force Israelto stop being a Jewish state.  

Nonetheless, Norway was the first country to send a senior diplomat to meet with Palestinian Prime Minister Haniyeh in Gaza on the same day that a Hamas sniper shot and wounded an Israeli electrician who was preparing a power line that supplies Israeli electricity to the Gaza Strip. The Israeli was seriously wounded. Haaretz newspaper quoted a senior Israeli defense source as saying that Israel will retaliate if such attacks continue from Gaza. Several Qassam rockets have been launched into Israel since the new Palestinian unity cabinet was sworn in on Saturday.  

As for the Palestinians, Peres said they had established a two part government - it was one of 'administrative unity and another of political division'. Israel's reaction wasnot to call off negotiations but to conduct contacts with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas who supported peace talks and rejected terrorism. But Israel would boycott Hamas officials. Peres concluded: ' They gave us a dictate and we rejected it because Hamas called for a continuation of the terrorism'. He declared that Jerusalem wouldnot capitulate on what he called its 'totally justified position'. 

Iran: Peres was optimistic that diplomatic moves and sanctions to halt Iran's nuclear weapons program would succeed. He noted the U.S. had successfully blocked similar programs in Ukraine, Libya, South Africa and most recently North Korea. He was confident Iran wouldnot be allowed to acquire the bomb and threaten an international catastrophe. In his view, Iran was now feeling the pressure of the mounting sanctions. 

And finally what of the of the public opinion woes of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert? Peres tended to think that Olmert would survive the findings of the Winograd enquiry into last summer's war with Hezbollah. He defended Olmert saying: 'I've seen all Israel's prime ministers up close and I believe Olmertis one of the better ones'.

David Essing

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