peres - Tomer Appelbaum - June 17 2011
President Shimon Peres. Photo by Tomer Appelbaum
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President Shimon Peres is concerned that Israel might become a binational state, in which case, he warned, it would cease to exist as a Jewish state.

"I'm concerned about the continued freeze [in the peace talks]," Peres said to people who visited him this week. "I'm concerned that Israel will become a binational 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."

Peres celebrated four years as president this week. He has three years to go until he decides on his next career move. But people who met him this week found the president's mood far from festive. He 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 from the world," Peres said. "Whoever rejects it will lose the world." He was referring to Prime Minister Benjamin 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 U.S. Congress.

But 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 president," he repeatedly tells them.

Peres also voiced fear that Israel might be subjected to economic boycotts and sanctions. There's no need for boycotts," he said. "It would suffice for ports in Europe or Canada to stop unloading Israeli merchandise. It's already beginning.

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