Peres second-guesses handling of ’05 Gaza pullout


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel "should have done things differently" in its 2005 pullout from Gaza, Israel’s president told American Jewish leaders. 

"Whatever will happen in the future, we shall not repeat the mistakes we made in leaving Gaza," Shimon Peres told members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Wednesday.

Peres made the statement during a question-and-answer session following his address. The organization is meeting in Jerusalem this week.

Peres, a supporter of territorial withdrawal, clarified that he objected to the manner in which the Gaza withdrawal was handled, according to a statement issued following the talk.

He also told Presidents Conference members that the direction of Israel’s future policies, not who heads the next government, is the critical issue. Peres did not say who he might appoint to form the next government.

"I am not biased towards any elected official, but the person chosen by the people will not be exempt from dealing with the dangers and obstacles ahead," he said.

Peres will be meeting with delegations from all of the parties elected to the 18th Knesset. On Wednesday night, delegations from the Kadima and Likud parties, which received the most votes in the Feb. 10 election, will meet with Peres after the head of the Central Elections Committee comes to the president’s residence to certify the results.

The president is scheduled to meet with Avigdor Lieberman, head of the Israel Beiteinu party, on Thursday morning.

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