Text size

President Shimon Peres on Monday hailed Israel's new weapon against the threat of "terrorism" from its Middle East neighbors - the electric car.

Outlining Israel's development priorities in an address to foreign journalists to mark this week's 60th anniversary of statehood, Peres said reducing global dependence on oil would curb oil-producing states' ability to fund Israel's enemies.

"Oil ... is not only polluting the air, it is also promoting terror," said the 84-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner, who has long promoted Israel's now powerful high-tech industries.

Peres argued that manifold increases in oil prices in recent years had contributed to a rise in financing for terrorism in the Middle East, and said an Israeli project to design a green car run on batteries, as well as plans to develop solar power, would in turn hit oil producing countries' budgets.

"We are not going to fight the producers of oil," he said. "But we are going to introduce alternatives."

Peres also said Monday said that while he was not in favor of attacking Iran over its nuclear program, a strong alliance needed to be put in place to sanction the Islamic country to deter it from its atomic path.

In sweeping comments before Israel's 60th anniversary, Peres compared the Iranian nuclear threat to Hitler's Germany and said engaging Gaza's Hamas rulers would be like talking to a wall.

"I am not in favor of a military attack on Iran, but we must quickly and decisively establish a strong, aggressive coalition of nations that will impose painful economic sanctions on Iran," he said regarding Tehran's nuclear program.

Addressing a press conference of foreign journalists, Peres said that "Iran's efforts to achieve nuclear weapons should keep the entire world from sleeping soundly."

Israel and Western nations accuse Iran of covertly seeking nuclear weapons, while Tehran insists its nuclear program is entirely peaceful.

"[Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad is calling for Israel to be wiped off the map, and the combination of nuclear weapons in the hands of a deranged extremist religious leader is a nightmare for the world," Peres went on to say.

"In a way it's more complicated than in the time of the Nazis," he said. "Hitler didn't have a nuclear bomb."

The president also said that Iran is a global terror center which "trains and finances generations of killers and terrorists."

On the topic of Hamas, Peres said that the militant rulers of the Gaza Strip were standing in the way of Palestinian statehood.

"If it weren't for Hamas and their criminal behavior, the Palestinian people would have had an independent state a long time ago," he proclaimed.

The president added that talking to the Islamic group was like "talking to a wall."

"We mustn't forget that we evacuated the Gaza Strip and the areas surrounding it, all the while under Hamas fire aimed at women and children in Israel. We don't want to harm the civilian population, we transfer food, fuel and medicine to the Gaza population, but we can't ignore the fact that Hamas is causing much damage to their people and can blame no one but themselves."

In regard to Syria, Peres said that if the Syrians were earnestly ready to enter into peace talks with Israel, Israel would be willing to comply. "We want a comprehensive peace in the Middle East and we are willing to pay a price for a comprehensive peace, as we have done in the past," he said.

On a separate note, Peres said that despite the investigation currently being managed against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, he saw no reason for the prime minister to resign so long as he remained innocent in the eyes of the law.

"Olmert has not been indicted and he will be innocent until proven otherwise," he said.

"Democratically, this investigation is in life, but personally, I don't know of anything that would change my mind over whether the prime minister should stay in his position," he added.

Peres also said Monday, that his birthday wish for Israel would be to have it lead the world in science."

"I would like that it should be as old as the Ten Commandments and as new as nanotechnology," Peres said.