Israeli Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel said that Israeli President Shimon Peres’s political meddling is destroying the office that he was elected to by the Knesset in 2007. His comments were made during a wide ranging interview with Israeli daily Ma’ariv.
Unlike the chairman of his Jewish Home party, Naftali Bennett, Ariel does not support scrapping the office of the Presidency. However, he asserted that, “Peres’s views are those of an extreme minority, whereas a President needs to reflect a broad, national consensus.”
Ariel claimed that Peres is using the office, which has historically been an apolitical ceremonial post, to actively promote a political agenda. Peres is, “…attempting to impose upon Israel a [political settlement by way of] negotiations [with the Palestinian Authority], something that 60 percent of the nation is against,” Ariel said.
Effectively, Peres has been agitating against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to Ariel. When the President recently stated publicly that the Palestinian Authority does not need to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, he was openly contradicting the position of the Prime Minister, who has asserted repeatedly that there will never be a peace treaty signed between Jerusalem and Ramallah unless the PA formally acknowledges the Jewish character of Israel, the Minister said.
He concluded his strong criticism of the country’s President by saying that it is Peres’s inappropriate behavior that has inspired recent calls by several high ranking Israeli politicians including Justice Minister Tzipi Livni to look into the possibility of doing away with the office of the Presidency all together, Ma’ariv said.