In a series of interviews that Shimon Peres granted for Israel's Independence Day, just before completing his seven-year term, the president of the State of Israel made sure to supply one significant diplomatic headline. In an effort to maintain his public relevancy in his next job as head of the Peres Center for Peace, in which he will continue to promote the diplomatic process with the Palestinians, Peres said that he reached a series of understandings with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas three years ago. These understandings, he said, should have enabled the signing of an agreement. But according to him, “[Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu stopped it.”
In the interviews, Peres said that during Netanyahu’s second term, Abbas agreed to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, to compromise on the issue of refugees and to show flexibility in the matter of borders. Instead of insisting on a return to the 1967 lines, he was prepared to negotiate on the territory of the Palestinian state. Peres revealed that he was acting with Netanyahu’s knowledge. However, when he went back to the prime minister with the agreement, Netanyahu led him to understand that the Middle East Quartet’s envoy to the Middle East, Tony Blair, had a better proposal. With that, said Peres, Netanyahu dissolved a historic agreement.