ANN CURRY: The tragedy in Syria drawing comment from President Shimon Peres. We sat down with him for a rare and exclusive an interview. We began by talking about the ongoing atrocities and if he thinks it is now time for the president of Syria, president al-Assad, to leave office.
SHIMON PERES: There are people now saying, "Okay, President Assad will be removed, what's the alternative? Whatever may happen will be better than what it is now." I think the best maybe thing that may happen is the Arabs will take responsibility of it. Let them handle it. So nobody will say that foreigners are intervening.
CURRY: You think the Arab League will take responsibility for removing President Assad.
PERES: For stopping the murder, which means removing President Assad. He is a murderer. He brings shame upon his people.
CURRY: If the Arab League does not remove President Assad, will Israel participate in helping remove President Assad.
PERES: Israel cannot help. Our intervention may be perceived as the wrong intervention even from their point of view. We must be very careful not to make it an Israeli issue. The best alternative is that Arabs will do it themselves.
CURRY: What is your message to Russia and China, both of which have been moving to block U.S. efforts?
PERES: I don't believe that Russia or China can or should see in Assad an existing alternative, because he already killed so many people. No country—China, Russia, anybody else—can remain indifferent to this revolt against humanity.
CURRY: In a week's time in Moscow, there will be a new round of very important talks about Iran. What is the tipping point that might cause Israel to act militarily against Iran?
PERES: You don't have to tell what they are going to do forever today; Israel agrees with the United States completely. In order to stop Iran from becoming nuclear, let's start with economic sanctions. But if you say it is just economic sanctions, they don't stand a chance to become successful. And Israel is emphasizing that it is two steps, not one.
CURRY: But what would cause the other option to kick into gear?
PERES: The sheer existence of the other option is a message. You say all the options are on the table, everybody understands all the options.
CURRY: Would Israel ever conceivably attack Iran without the United States approval?
PERES: I don't think we have to make a list before things are happening how it will happen. It's unnecessary. Maybe the United States will decide about their actions, too. Right now the position is clear. The message to Iran, stop it.
CURRY: By the way, President Peres in New York this week to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama. We're back with much more after your local news.
Published under: Bashar al-Assad