2011 – Year of Decision for Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, Israel – and Shimon Peres

As Netanyahu’s coalition struggles, Peres may need to step in – Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News

Peres can invite Palestinian leaders Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad to the President’s Residence with cameras from around the world reporting the event and press them to return to the negotiating table. He can invite himself for a presidential visit in Ramallah. And he can speak out more clearly and more trenchantly than he usually does in his speeches – though a close reading between the lines reveals them to be laced with pessimism and doom-saying. If there is a national figure today who is esteemed and to whom the nation will listen, it is Peres. Maybe the way to induce the prime minister to act is through the public. If Peres truly believes, as he says in private conversations, that in 2011 Israel will face the genuine possibility of economic sanctions by the European Union, joining the ranks of countries like North Korea and Iran, will he be able to look in the mirror at the end of the year and tell himself that he did everything he could to avert the disaster?

“What do you want from me, I’m not the prime minister,” he tells people who urge him to burst the boundaries of the presidency. “I prefer to do things quietly, by persuasion and with agreement. I have learned a few things in my life. Sometimes it’s better to work in this way in order not to generate anger and destroy friendships.” Over the past year and nine months, precisely, he and Netanyahu have experienced a beautiful friendship. Despite Peres’ anger at promises that were violated, he still believes in this friendship. He thinks it is meant to allow him to act behind the scenes, when he be [sic] taking into account the possibility that it is putting him to sleep and preventing him from doing what he is obliged to do.

The political establishment is in election mode. The accepted view across the political spectrum today is that Labor will leave the government in February or March of the new year. The Netanyahu coalition will survive for a few months with the help of the National Union, and then the Knesset will dissolve. Elections will be held at the beginning of 2012, at the latest. Peres knows that time is running out. In the weeks ahead, he will have to decide whether to shift his political activity to the center of the stage. In another three months, on March 31, 2011, the Netanyahu government and Shimon Peres will mark the second anniversary of their terms in office. It’s already a cliche to say that 2011 will be the year of decision for Iran, for Hamas, for Hezbollah – and for all of them together. It will also be the year of decision for Peres.


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