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Peres strikes conciliatory tone in Iranian New Year message

JTA

March 20, 2014 | 1:31 pm

Israeli President Shimon Peres during the video message

Israeli President Shimon Peres during the video message

Israeli President Shimon Peres wished Jews and Iranians a “year of silence and peace” on the occasion of Nowruz, the Iranian New Year.

Peres in a video message posted by his office on Thursday struck a more conciliatory tone than in past greetings for the ancient holiday, when he would make the case that the burden for peacemaking was on the Iranians.

“As we have had a great history, we can and should have a great future,” he said. “Don’t postpone it. Let’s have a year of silence and peace and forget war and threatening.”

The appeal also was in marked contrast to an escalation in warnings from other Israeli political leaders about a possible confrontation with Iran.

Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon suggested this week to a private audience that Israel might consider a unilateral attack to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, having lost confidence in the U.S.-led talks with Iran.

Reports also leaked that Israel has budgeted up to $3 billion for an attack on Iran.

President Obama in his Nowruz message expressed cautious optimism about the talks underway between Iran and major powers.

“For years, the international community has had concerns that Iran’s nuclear program could lead to Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon, which would be a threat to the region and to the world,” he said. “Now we’re engaged in intensive negotiations in the hopes of finding a comprehensive solution that resolves the world’s concerns with the Iranian nuclear program.”

Peres said in his 2012 message for Norwuz had said to the Iranians, “If you won’t hate, you won’t be hated, if you won’t threaten, you won’t be threatened, if you’ll show friendship, you’ll get friendship.”

The lighter tone follows a wish by Iran’s new leadership last September for Jews to have a happy Rosh Hashanah.

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