JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli President Shimon Peres praised Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as a partner for peace while slamming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and ex-Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman.
"No one will change my opinion about Abu Mazen, even if they say I cannot express it because I’m the president," Peres said, using the Arabic name for Abbas, while speaking Sunday to more than 150 foreign diplomats at the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s annual conference. Peres said he has known Abbas for 30 years.
The Israeli president criticized Netanyahu and Liberman for their handling of relations with the Palestinians, Haaretz reported.
In response, the parties led by Netanyahu and Liberman, Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu, offered a joint statement.
"It is very disappointing that the president chooses to express a personal political opinion that is disconnected from the Israeli public’s stance regarding Abu Mazen, the peace refusenik," the statement said. "It is even more disappointing that the president chose to present before foreign diplomats a political stance that encourages condemnations of Israel in the international community."
Peres also called for a negotiated peace agreement under the principle of two states for two people, according to reports.
"We must complete the task of reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians without further delay, and clearly state that the binational solution is a danger to Zionism, Judaism and the democracy of the State of Israel," he said.