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Israel could cease to exist as Jewish state: Peres

Israeli Prez Shimon Peres has warned that his country could cease to exist as a Jewish state, if the deadlock in peace talks continues.



Jerusalem: Israeli President Shimon Peres
has warned that his country could cease to exist as a Jewish
state, becoming a bi-national one, if the deadlock in peace
talks with the Palestinians continues.

Peres also warned that Israel`s future is "doomed" if
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu`s government continues with
the current policy of "foot dragging", which may soon lead to
its isolation in the international community.

"I`m concerned about the continued freeze (in the
peace talks)," the Nobel laureate President was quoted by
daily Ha`aretz as saying to people who visited him this week.

"I`m concerned that Israel will become a bi-national
state. What is happening now is total foot-dragging. We`re
about to crash into the wall. We`re galloping at full speed
toward a situation where Israel will cease to exist as a
Jewish state," he said.

Peres this week completed four years in office, but
people who met him this week found his mood far from festive,
the daily said.

He reportedly prophesied that Israel would be "doomed"
unless negotiations with the Palestinians leading to a peace
agreement began in the immediate future.

"Whoever accepts the basic principle of the 1967 lines
will receive international support. Whoever rejects it will
lose the world," he said in a sharp criticism to Prime
Minister Netanyahu`s vehement objection to starting peace
talks on the basis of the 1967 lines, which he called
"indefensible" in both the Knesset and the US Congress.

However, Peres continues to reject the advice of
friends and various political figures that he come out openly
against Netanyahu`s positions.

"I`m not the head of the opposition, I`m the state`s
President," Ha`aretz quoted him as repeatedly emphasising.

He also voiced concerns that Israel might be subjected
to economic boycotts and sanctions.

"There`s no need for boycotts. It would suffice for
ports in Europe or Canada to stop unloading Israeli
merchandise. It`s already beginning", the President noted.

"September is only a date," he said, referring to
Palestinian plans to seek UN recognition as a state then,
adding, "The question is what will happen before and after."

The Palestinian leadership has threatened that it will
seek UN General Assembly`s recognition for an independent
state within 1967 borders if the deadlock in peace talks
continues.

Peace talks broke down in September last year over
Palestinian demands that Israel declare a total freeze on
construction activities in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

Netanyahu, whose government overwhelmingly relies on
the support of its right-wing coalition partners, has been
resisting the move and called the 1967 borders as
"indefensible" recently in his address to the US Congress.

PTI

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