Why Shimon Peres Still Matters

Al-Monitor - September 3, 2012

Prof. Shai Feldman, Judith and Sidney Swartz Director of the Crown Center and Co-Chair of the Crown-Belfer Middle East Project at the Harvard Kennedy School  

Some three weeks ago, on the occasion of his 89th birthday, Israeli President Shimon Peres gave loud and clear public expression to his opposition to a possible Israeli military strike against Iran’s nuclear installations. This followed two years during which Peres is said to have counseled Israel’s leaders in closed quarters against the ramifications of such an attack. Giving a number of separate interviews on Aug. 16, Peres did not oppose such a strike under all circumstances. Rather, he warned against an attack that would not receive a green light from Washington. 

Coming after almost every former chief of Israel’s defense and intelligence agencies — and a few of the serving chiefs as well — have already expressed publicly or semi-publicly their opposition to such a strike, Peres’ intervention raises a good question: Why does he matter? Why does someone, who in the Israeli constitutional set-up fills no more than a ceremonial role, count? Without decision-making authority, why should Peres’ voice be considered a significant addition to the already formidable chorus warning of the implications of such an attack? ...