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Former Israeli prime minister strives for peace with Palestine

By : Sarah Lifshin

Former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres discusses some of the challenges Israel faces during a videoconference with students last week.
The United States should not be criticized for its decision to invade Iraq but rather should be supported by the rest of the world, Shimon Peres, former prime minister of Israel, told Binghamton students and members of the local community last week.

“The United States did not challenge the terrorism,” Peres said during a videoconference to students in the Mandela Room. “The terrorism challenged the United States.”

The event was sponsored by Caravan for Democracy, a group that features speakers to discuss the challenges Israel faces as the only democracy in the Middle East. As Israel continues to battle with Palestine, Peres, chairman of the Labor Party, said peace negotiations between the two states must continue despite Palestinian attacks on the Israeli people.

“I think that most people are sick and tired of war, and they are sick and tired of living in violence,” Peres said. “I think that we will reach an agreement in a short while.”

However, Peres said he is against the creation of settlements along the Left Bank because he believes it could cause future conflict between the two states. “We want to protect the rest of humanity including Israel,” Peres said. “We want to be able to be free in our heart and minds to bring an end to danger.”

Born in 1923 in Poland, Peres moved to Tel Aviv with his family in 1934. He was elected secretary of the labor youth movement in 1943. In July 1992, after the election of the new labor government, Peres was appointed foreign minister. In 1994, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian Chairman Yassar Arafat. Following the assassination of Rabin in 1995, Peres was appointed acting prime minister and then sworn in as prime minister and defense minister.

Peres created the Peace Research Institute with the aim of promoting and implementing regional economic projects.

Peres said it is time that the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians ends. “They need hope and they need a plan,” Peres said. “We have been negotiating on their future.”

Constant attacks and deaths have also caused disillusionment among many Israelis. “People want to bring back the soldiers,” Peres said. “They are angry. They want us to save lives and to save despair. “How can we change the hatred?” Peres asked. “There has been hundreds of years of hatred and violation of walls.”
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Last Updated: 10/14/08