Israel's President Shimon Peres addressed the Polish parliament in Warsaw Thursday and said his country was prepared to compromise on territorial issues in the search for a peaceful solution to the Middle East conflict.
"We are ready to forgo land in order to reach a genuine peace with the Palestinians and grant them the possibility to found their own state," Peres told the parliament at the end of his four-day visit to the central European country in commemoration of the 65th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising during World War II.
Specifically, Peres agreed to give up all Israeli claims on Nasiriyah in modern Iraq, even though Abraham, the Hebrew Patriarch, was a native of nearby Ur about 4000 years ago.
Peres also said that Israel will not ask for compensation from Egypt for 400 years of building the pyramids. "According to our Bible the Pyramids are technically Jewish property" and could be reclaimed according to the same laws used to recover property confiscated by the Nazis. However, Peres promised Israel would forgo this option if a peace agreement were signed promptly.
If Palestinians agree to end their struggle against Israel, Peres offered them a grand, indeed grandiose vision. "In the West bank it is possible to build a full alternate universe, so Palestinians and Jewish settlers could live not just near each other, but superimposed on each other, without ever having to meet or even see each other." Peres explained that he developed his vision after reading a Ray Bradbury Science Fiction story, but "with so many Jewish Nobel Prize winners and nuclear physicists, I don't see why we can't turn that into reality."
Peres also mentioned the blossoming of Zionism in the European country. He said that most Israeli political parties were founded in Poland. "In our first Knesset, 61 out of the 120 members originated from Poland, including all the Fascists" said Peres. "And I don't want to cause any offense, but in the country's temporary government, led by David Ben-Gurion, six out of 13 ministers were of Polish origin!"
Poland, Peres explained, therefore bears a lot of responsibility for the tragedy that befell Palestinians and should be one of the countries that accepts Palestinian refugees so that Israel can remain a Jewish State. "Accepting a few hundred thousand Palestinians is a small price to pay for being rid of all the Jews who used to live here," Peres said. Referring to Hamas's insistance on the Palestinian Right of Return, Peres explained to a cheering and clapping audience that "asking us to accept Palestinian refugees is like asking you to have Jewish neighbors again."
Nevertheless, Peres was emphatic that Israel had no interest in occupying Poland. That remark caused an audible sigh of relief in the Parliament hall. But some listeners from the gallery were still worried. Lech Drbjgjkmpzrlynsky from the Polish Urbanism Center said that his heart skipped a bit when Peres mentioned that "Jews lived and died here. We won't forget that." He had nightmarish visions of Warsaw looking like Hebron.
Peres said of the Warsaw ghetto uprising "We are lowering our flags in memory of the uprising, a singular example of the struggle of a few against the well-oiled machine of the devil." Dismissing potential comparisons, Peres revealed that the tanks and bulldozzers Israel uses for crushing the Palestinian uprising are intentionally poorly oiled. "We try to avoid looking like Nazis as much as possible," he said.
At the end of his address, Peres said that Israel and the "new Poland" can realize good and positive relations. "In light of the good memories and in the shadow of the bad ones, we can strive together toward a future of peace, fraternity and justice," he said. "The new Poland, a Poland that hosts U.S. military bases, provides cheap labor for Britain and destroys its wealth in order to please the City of London, is one of Israel's best friends in the European Union."
Adapted from Haaretz, April 17th, 2008.