President Shimon Peres has revealed that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu broke off negotiations Peres was conducting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on the brink of a historic peace agreement.
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In an interview he gave to Israel's Channel 2, Peres said that 3 years ago he and Abbas had reached agreement on “nearly all points of dispute”, but that “Netanyahu was under the impression that former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was about to present a better deal.”
According to Peres, he didn’t agree but Netanyahu wanted to wait a few more days.
“I thought that it wasn’t a question of a few more days and that Blair would not produce a better agreement than the one I had reached.”
In an interview with Yonit Levi, Peres said he had reached agreement with Abbas on two major issues: recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and on the refugee issue.
“He would agree to a Jewish state and we would agree to a Palestinian one. Both of us agreed on these two issues. In addition, there was the refugee problem, which had always seemed a stumbling block, out of concern that their repatriation would upset the Jewish nature of Israel. He agreed to adopt the Arab League’s proposal, that this issue would be resolved in a just and mutually agreed upon fashion.”
Peres said that with regard to the 1967 borders they agreed to talk about the size of the Palestinian state rather than its borders. This enabled territorial exchanges as well as retaining settlement blocks. He agreed to that. “
According to Peres, the only reason the deal wasn’t signed was Netanyahu’s objection to the plan.
“Netanyahu stopped it. The agreement was reached with the Prime Minister’s knowledge. I didn’t conduct private negotiations. The Prime Minister was an accomplice to the negotiations at every step of the way. Maybe he was convinced that a better offer was on its way. I don’t know. I don’t want to pass judgement. In any event, that’s what he told me and I had no reason to doubt him.”