On CNN’s FAREED ZAKARIA GPS, Fareed sits down with Shimon Peres who has worked at the highest levels of Israel’s government for decades. Peres discusses the prospects for peace in the Middle East and his future career aspirations.
Peres on Palestinian statehood: “I think they have to give to them the state. I don’t have the slightest doubt about it”
Peres on security in the Middle East: “I don’t think there will be more wars. It’s being replaced by terror. It’s a difficult sort of a conflict. Usually, you have two armies. One won, the other lost. But now we have hundreds and hundreds of small terrorist groups. They don’t have a policy. They have more of a protest. They don’t have a tomorrow. They are going back to yesterday.”
A full transcript of the interview is available a after the jump.
FULL INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED
FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST: Sixty-five years ago, Shimon Peres got his first major position in Israel as head of its navy. Sixty-six days ago, he finally left government at the ripe young age of 91. In between, there was an extraordinary career filled with wars and many attempts at peace. Tragedies and triumphs – including a Nobel Peace Prize. Forty-eight years in the Knesset. Stints holding seemingly EVERY high office in Israel including Prime Minister, including President. That last one was his FINAL government job from which he stepped down in July. So what is he going to do next? This week he released a humorous video that shows he’s working on an answer to that question. Here, now, our conversation at the Clinton Global Initiative earlier this week.
ZAKARIA: You were a very good pizza delivery person, I have to tell you, in that part. I thought you particularly showed skill.
PERES: Well, this is an unexpected compliment for a
PERES: — for a man who doesn’t have experience.
ZAKARIA: When you look at the Middle East today…
ZAKARIA: Do you think that Israel’s position is less secure? And let me preface it by asking it to you this way. When I was in graduate school, we would study the military balance of power in the Middle East. We would see that Israel was up against the great Egyptian Army, the great Iraqi Army, the great Syrian Army.
And those were the countries that Israel worried about having to go to war with.
Now, you know, Egypt is internally convulsed. Iraq is internally convulsed, battling ISIS and Syria is in freefall.
Does that reality mean that Israel is more secure?
PERES: In a way, yes. You know, actually, though, no, really more armies and I don’t think there will be more wars. It’s being replaced by terror. It’s a difficult sort of a conflict. Usually, you have two armies. One won, the other lost. But now we have hundreds and hundreds of small terrorist groups. They don’t have a policy. They have more of a protest. They don’t have a tomorrow. They are going back to yesterday.
And they became the real problem for the Arab world more than for Israel. And we stand informally. In the future, they will be more formal at the same front against terrorism.
ZAKARIA: Do you believe that as a result of this, relations with this common enemy of terrorism, relations between Israel and the Arab countries and Middle Eastern countries are inevitably going to get better?
PERES: Undoubtedly, in my eyes. You know, we live in a global world. I don’t, I’m not sure that the globality had it in mind or planned it. The fact is, the globality put an end to racism. You cannot be global and racist. Finished. You cannot be global and even nationalistic. Finished.
Globality doesn’t hang on power, but on goodwill.
ZAKARIA: If you were to — if I were to be talking to a — an Arab statesman, even somebody well-disposed toward Israel, what he, I think, would say to me is, yes, Arabs and Israelis could be friends, but Israel has to give the Palestinians a state.
PERES: I agree with him. I think they have to give to them the state. I don’t have the slightest doubt about it.
PERES: You know, I’m either too young or too old to pay — to pay too much attention to what people say. I would rather see what they do.
And maybe in the conversation, some people will say this and that. But the official position and the real desire of the Israelis to have two states, an Arab state and a Jewish state. And I think that’s also the conclusion of the Arabs.
ZAKARIA: Who was the first American president you met?
PERES: Kennedy, President Kennedy. You are too young, though.
ZAKARIA: Do you, do you think there are a number of people who feel that President Obama has been too passive or disengaged in the Middle East. Do you agree with that assessment?
PERES: No. No. I think President Obama met all the serious requests we have had. And I think he has his own style and he is in a different position as well.
The other presidents never had this — such a China, never had such an India, never had the world crisis, never paid so much for wars.
So every president is not just a new president, but he comes in in a new age
ZAKARIA: So we have seen the video. So we know the options available.
ZAKARIA: But you’re not looking for another job, you’re not looking for another post, assignment?
PERES: I am busy. No, I am very busy. I don’t need, you know, when you are president, you live in a golden cage. Now, if you like gold, stay.
PERES: If you like to fly, leave the cage and fly like a bird.
PERES: So I prefer flying. I think it’s a better employment than watching gold. And I’m busy as ever.
Shimon Peres, the one and only Shimon Peres.
Thank you so much.