Why did Peres advocate for Netanyahu's deceit?
The president's disappointment is not surprising. What was surprising was the earlier hope.
On more than one occasion, people told me I was too pessimistic. How is it, they asked, that you see gloom and doom, while Shimon Peres, who is directly involved, has a rosy view of things?
We met the president, they said, and he's sure peace is just around the corner. Peres prophesies it, and Benjamin Netanyahu will bring it. And you, who lack faith, are spreading worry. Their words had the tone of a reprimand.
I examined myself: Was I a born pessimist, suspicious from birth? Not necessarily. But my life experiences planted in me the seed of doubt, which struck roots and is gradually growing.
Now, the birds circling the president's residence have spread the word: Peres is disappointed. At the Knesset's opening session he hinted at his frustrations, revealed by his heart to his mouth, and by his mouth to us.
"Peres looked pessimistic, tired, worried and sober," wrote Yossi Verter, describing the scene in Haaretz. And from the podium, Peres rebuked Netanyahu, revealing some of his disappointment.
This disappointment is not surprising. What was surprising was the earlier hope. On what basis did Peres have faith in Netanyahu and help him deceive the entire world? On the basis of his character, his past, or the camaraderie of people traveling together in an Audi A8?
You can put your trust in solid ground, but not in shifting sands. And Peres is no naif, to be taken in by anything Netanyahu tells him. So what happened here? Why did he decide to serve as an advocate for dishonesty?
What exactly did Netanyahu tell him one-on-one? Did he lay out his secret and final map for a peace deal, or did he make do with the statement, "You will yet see that I'm serious; I'll surprise you yet?"
Did Netanyahu tell Peres he intended to keep building in the settlements and reject U.S. President Barack Obama's appeal for an extension of the freeze? Did he tell him that not a single illegal outpost would be evacuated, and that no price tag would be set for stealing land and burning mosques and olive trees? Did he tell him that he intended to ignite Jerusalem as well, to Judaize Arab neighborhoods, evict Palestinians from their homes and, precisely at this moment, pass a national priorities law that does not distinguish between east and west Jerusalem?
Did he tell him frankly that he was determined to condition the negotiations on Palestinian recognition of Israel as the "Jewish state?" Did he tell him that he would not relinquish his natural partners, Avigdor Lieberman, Eli Yishai and Daniel Hershkowitz, and that he would not form a different coalition? Did he tell him - and only him - in confidence that he sees trapped miners somewhere who inspire worldwide solidarity?
Whether he told Peres or not, we ought to know: Was the Nobel Peace Prize laureate a knowing or unknowing accomplice in deceit, accessory to a fraud?
The president, after all, is a knowledgeable and experienced man. He is not one to believe insincere promises. Who has been burned more than Peres in the past, and therefore ought to be careful? It was none other than Netanyahu who buried the Oslo agreements, who pretended to negotiate and sign the Wye Accord but then immediately sabotaged that as well.
Netanyahu is, shall we say, not known as a straight shooter. That's not the strong side of his personality. He has on occasion been a tad inaccurate.
So what motivated the president to spread the prime minister's message as if he were a herald walking before him, or as retainer trailing behind him? Why did he see fit to give unlimited credit to someone whose whole life is in overdraft?
Maybe Peres will agree to explain the mystery. Tomorrow in Rabin Square would be a good opportunity.