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Peres Refers to Palestine State, Brings the House Down in Knesset

While speaking before the Knesset this week, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres made a comment that almost brought the house down around him.

During a Knesset debate Wednesday on the rising violence in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, Peres answered criticism from members of the opposition, some of whom were calling on the government to call off the peace talks until radical Arabs ceased their attacks on Israelis.

Peres responded by saying that Israeli security forces were doing everything possible.

He then added: “The most that (Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman) Yasser Arafat can do at the moment is to denounce the attacks — until he forms a Palestine state in Gaza and Jericho.”

His reference to a “Palestine state” created a furor in the Knesset.

Peres backtracked by apologizing for what he described as a “slip of the tongue,” stressing that what he had meant to say was “until he establishes the Palestine police force in Gaza and Jericho.”

But opposition members claimed that Peres’ remark was a Freudian slip.

They said it betrayed his real expectations for the eventual establishment of a Palestinian state, launched into a noisy and angry interruption of the Knesset debate.

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