The famous Israeli politician Shimon Peres, one of the leaders of the Kadima party, thinks that the Russian leadership will not allow relations with Israel to deteriorate for the sake of supporting the Palestinian Hamas movement.
“Today Putin will not risk relations with Israel for the sake of supporting Hamas. At the end of the day, from an economic point of view Israel is more profitable for Russia ,” said Peres in an interview to the newspaper Vremya Novostey, published on Friday.
Peres remarked that he was surprised by Hamas’ invitation to visit Russia, reports Interfax. Let us remember that a delegation from the Palestinian “Islamic Resistance Movement” (Hamas) headed by Khaled Mashal was in Moscow at the beginning of March.
“The visit of Hamas leaders to Moscow at the start of March, at the stage when they are refusing to acknowledge Israel , gave the Hamas leadership some sort of illusion of their significance – after all, the Russian president invited them to Moscow ! So, he invited them, the Hamas delegation spent some time in Moscow, where they were met warmly and ceremoniously, then returned home. But what next?” said Peres.
At the same time, he added, “the international community has not changed its opinion, and Vladimir Putin understands that it is impossible to be a representative of the “Big Eight”, not taking into account the interests of the international community”.
“Does Hamas think that Russia will defend it on the international stage? I doubt it,” reasoned Peres.
Israel has yet another major problem – Teheran’s nuclear plans. In the opinion of defense minister Shaul Mofaz Iran's nuclear bomb will threaten the very existence of Israel. Peres views Russia ’s initiative for the creation of a joint enterprise with Iran for enriching uranium on its own territory with skepticism.
“The Iranian leadership is simply laughing in the face of the international community,” Peres says. “After all Iran is not only developing nuclear weapons, but is making medium and even long-range missiles. After this can we really believe that the Iranian nuclear programme is being developed for exclusively peaceful ends? Iran is a country that is governed not by the people, but by ayatollahs. Iran is being torn apart by internal problems,” he maintains.
Commenting on Russia’s initiative, Peres announced that, in his opinion, “nothing useful will come of it. When a Russian engineer is talking to his Iranian colleague, who can know exactly what the two of them are chatting about? And if the Russian engineer is promised money for certain information, who can be sure that he will not hand over information that is important to Iran?” remarked Peres.
Peres thinks that the end of the “Cold War” has had very little influence on the foreign policy of modern Russia. “There was always an ideological aspect to the relations between the USSR and the Arabic nations and Israel . But just as before Russia is now using its relations with the Arabs to counterbalance the USA. It’s important for Moscow to show that Russia is a great power. At the same time the economic component of Russia ’s foreign policy often plays a secondary role. Israel has grown accustomed to this particular quality of Russia .”
82-year old Shimon Peres is a Nobel prize winner and a legend of Israeli politics. He began working alongside the founder of the Jewish state David Ben-Gurion. At the end of November 2005 Peres left the Avoda party, of which he had been a member for 46 years. This happened after he had lost the internal party elections to the trade union leader Amir Perets.
Now he is deputy leader of the Kadima party (meaning Go Forward) behind current leader Ehud Olmert. The party was created in November last year by prime minister Ariel Sharon, and has a comfortable lead and is aiming to win 35-40 seats in the 120-seat parliament. In the future government Shimon Peres is running for the post of minister for regional development. On the 28th March parliamentary elections will take place in Israel .
“Sharon not only founded Kadima, but developed a plan of action, which makes up our political programme. It provides for further territorial concessions, at the heart of which is the ‘Road Map’, an international plan for a peaceful settlement in the Middle East ,” said Peres.
Many claim that Kadima is a fragile party which will collapse before the next elections. But Peres objects: “In Israel centre parties have really quite quickly ceased to exist. But now the situation is different. Kadima is a union of politicians who have left the two main parties, Likud and Avoda, in order to save our country”.
Translated by James Platt