Mag­is­trate re­calls how Guido de Marco sent him to Shi­mon Peres with mes­sage to not hurt Arafat

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

Shi­mon Peres was a man of rea­son who tried to bring the Is­raelis and Pales­tini­ans closer to­gether, was how Mag­is­trate Joe Mif­sud yesterday de­scribed the former Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter and Pres­i­dent.

“It was Pres­i­dent Emer­i­tus Guido de Marco who had first in­tro­duced him to me,” Dr Mif­sud, who had the op­por­tu­nity to meet the Is­raeli states­man more than once, told The Malta In­de­pen­dent yesterday morn­ing. “I met Peres for the first time when he came to Malta for an of­fi­cial visit. I was help­ing Pro­fes­sor de Marco es­tab­lish con­tacts with the Peres Cen­tre for Peace.

“We had or­gan­ised peace ini­tia­tives in Malta by bring­ing to­gether Is­raeli and Pales­tinian youths in a train­ing of co-ex­is­tence. The aim was to have them trained and help them be­come a bea­con of peace in their re­spec­tive com­mu­ni­ties.”

Dr Mif­sud had joined Prof de Marco for the 80th birth­day of Shi­mon Peres. He re­calls, “I re­mem­ber Peres giv­ing a very strong mes­sage in the pres­ence of Ariel Sharon, the Prime Min­is­ter of Is­rael.”

But there is one par­tic­u­lar event which Dr Mif­sud will never forget. It was back in 2002 as Prime Min­is­ter Sharon when had de­clared Yasser Arafat an “en­emy” and had or­dered tanks and bull­doz­ers to tear down the fences and walls sur­round­ing his head­quar­ters in Ra­mal­lah.

Dr Mif­sud rec­ol­lects, “I hap­pened to be in Nazareth at the time at­tend­ing a sem­i­nar and Prof. de Marco had con­tacted me to pass on a mes­sage to Mr Peres. I trav­elled to Tel Aviv and went to his of­fice.”

Prof. de Marco’s mes­sage to Peres was to “not hurt Arafat, be­cause if they do, the al­ready heated sit­u­a­tion would es­ca­late even fur­ther. I had de­liv­ered the mes­sage my­self and Peres had as­sured us that Arafat would not be touched.”

It was at that point that Mr Peres called Prof. de Marco di­rectly us­ing Dr Mif­sud’s phone. From the Pres­i­dent’s Palace in Malta, Prof. de Marco would com­mu­ni­cate the mes­sages from the Pales­tinian Am­bas­sador in Malta to Arafat.

“I had asked Peres if it would be pos­si­ble for me to go see Arafat. But he looked at me with a smile, telling me it was im­pos­si­ble as it was not safe.”

Prof. de Marco had gained the trust of former Is­raeli Pres­i­dent, so much that when an Is­raeli ex­trem­ist at­tacked and killed more than a dozen peo­ple in He­bron, Mr Peres had asked the Mal­tese Pres­i­dent Emer­i­tus to kick off ini­tia­tives which could help the two peo­ples come to­gether.

“As I heard the news this morn­ing, I could not help but re­call all these mem­o­ries,” he ex­plained while de­scrib­ing Peres as a man who did his best to ne­go­ti­ate peace.

“In places like Is­rael and Pales­tine, ev­ery small step counts,” Dr Mif­sud ob­served.

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