President Shimon Peres said Thursday in an interview with Israel’s Channel 2 News that Israel alone should not and cannot attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. With this statement, Peres has effectively positioned himself in direct opposition to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
In the interview, the president stresses: “It is clear to us that we alone cannot do it. We can postpone it, but we know clearly that we have to go along with America. There are questions of coordination and timing, but no matter how much nearer the danger is growing, at least this time we are not alone.”
In Israel’s political system, the role of president has been designed as largely ceremonial, intended to preserve the balance of Israel’s democracy. President Peres’s decision to oppose the Prime Minister, who holds the executive powers, is a deviation from decades of tradition, and may result in some harm to the institution of the presidency itself.
Peres also addressed the commitment of President Barack Obama to Israel in connection with an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities. “This is an American interest, and he (President Obama) sees this interest,” clarified the president. “Obama is not saying this just to please us.”
The president added that “Israel must rely on herself, but that does not mean she should give up on friends. When I say that I have a right to self-defense, it does not mean that I must be angry with everyone, whatever for?”
During the day, Thursday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak addressed the possible attack on Iran in the Knesset plenum, explaining why this action was necessary. He said that dealing with a nuclear Iran would be difficult, expensive and more dangerous. He added: “The decision, as required, will be made by the Government of Israel, not by groups of civilians and not even by editorials.”
The Channel 2 News full interview will be shown at 8:00 PM Israel time, 1:00 PM New York time.