Peres preaches peace

By Heather Urquides
Arizona Daily Wildcat
October 4, 1996

Chris Richards
Arizona Daily Wildcat

Shimon Peres, former Prime Minister of Israel, speaks of the peace process between the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel at in Tucson yesterday.


President Clinton was right to call Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House for meetings, even though nothing was accomplished, the former prime minister of Israel said last night.

"Not much was solved," said Shimon Peres, recipient of the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize, "but at least much was prevented - at least for the time being."

Much will depend on the negotiations themselves, which are slated to begin Sunday, he said to about 500 people at The Westin La Paloma during a $125-a-plate dinner forum, the 20th lecture of the Tucson Medical Center Foundation's Greater Issues Series.

"The art of negotiation is never to select a normal alternative, but always to create a new one," Peres said.

It is difficult to make peace, he said, but almost impossible to live without it.

Peres said the dangers from the conflicts in the Middle East cross the seas and boundaries of the countries at war.

"Enemies have a location," but that is not the case with dangers, he said.

The dangers of nuclear bombs and terrorism from the Middle East are undeniable, said Peres, who was surrounded by about 25 security officers from the State Department and the Pima County Sheriff's Department, along with hotel security.

When planes fall from the sky, he said, the first question asked is which country the danger came from.

Dangers are all around in the world, Peres said.

"Occasionally, I think to myself what would have happened if Hitler had had a nuclear bomb," he said.

Peres said partnerships need to be built and strategies need to be developed for reducing the motivations for war.

He said that when nations are at war and in conflict, they have a good time. They negotiate with themselves, he said, and when people negotiate with themselves they seem brilliant to each other.

But when the two parties meet for negotiations, they will be meeting with the enemy, trying to make him a partner, he said.

Peres said compromising with the enemy sometimes makes you unpopular in the eyes of the people you serve.

But he said, "A good leader should always be controversial and not popular. What is popular but to please everyone and do nothing?"

He said the United States has an open window of opportunity as the only superpower since the collapse of the Soviet Union to try to bring peace to the people of the world, whether Arabs, Jews, Christians or Muslims.

As for the future of the Middle East, Peres said, "I'm sure that peace will win."

Joan Barrett, TMC internal communications employee, would not say how much Peres received for his speech, which brought in about $62,500 in ticket sales.