“Yesterday Egypt suggested a ceasefire to open a window of opportunity to bring the fighting to an end. This morning the Israeli Security Cabinet accepted the ceasefire. Hamas isolated itself, the world calls upon them to end the fire. If they continue despite the proposal they will only bring more suffering to their people,” Peres said.
Peres praised the strength of the Israeli public and said, “Israel will continue to defend itself – it is our moral responsibility and our sovereign right. Terrorists aim to kill innocent civilians. Mothers and children. Jews and Arabs. However, the rockets did not achieve their aim. The strength of our army, our technological edge and the courage of our people allows Israel to stand strong. The Israeli public stood steadfast in the face of this ongoing provocation.”
“We all wish to lower the flames, we want an end to the fighting and we hope to see it soon. But there can be no compromise with terror. No more rockets. No more terror. Many of our neighbors stand with us in this fight. It is a global threat,” Peres said.
President Peres also addressed the Palestinian people directly, saying “The Palestinian people are not our enemies, the people of Gaza are not our enemies. We share the same aim, which is an end to terror, security and calm for civilians everywhere. We must return to peace talks to achieve the only viable, long term solution – two states for two peoples.
“I want to say something to the people of Gaza. This was the third major escalation in the past 6 years. Each time it is innocent civilians that suffer and pay the price. Rockets and terror bring you no closer to your national aspirations. Terrorism will not deliver for the Palestinian people. The children of Gaza deserve the same opportunities as children everywhere which is to be secure and free.
“But Hamas continues to hold them hostage. They seek death over life. President Abbas is not only a partner for Israel but is the best hope for the Palestinians for a future of stability, respect, independence and prosperity. He is a man of peace, a responsible leader. Our hand will always be raised to defend ourselves against those who seek to harm us. And stretched out in friendship to those who seek peace,” Peres said.
For his part, Tony Blair said “the ceasefire is important because it gives us the opportunity to stop the tragic loss of life, the misery and the fear. The number of people who have died in Gaza is indeed tragic, people in Israel in these last days living in fear of terror and rocket attacks.”
Blair also noted that the ultimate success of a Palestinian state, which the Quartet supports, will be conditional on the complete cessation of rocket fire at Israeli.
“The (goal of the ceasefire is not the immediate cessation of rockets, but rather) to bring genuine hope for the future for the people of Gaza, to have Gaza opened up again to the world, to have Gaza and the West Bank re-united but to do so in a way that gives real and permanent security to the people of Israel, the freedom from rocket attacks, from tunnels, from terrorism.
“The international community is fully behind the efforts and will continue to be so,” Blair said.
Meir Halevi Siegel