Lula on Ahmadinejad: Condemning Our Talks Is as Intolerant as Not Wanting Peace

Lula and Ahmadinejad in Brazil Talking to the Brazilian people this Monday morning in his weekly radio program, Breakfast with the President, the president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said the world needs to find a middle road to solve the Middle East conflict. He proposed that the UN should be heading this effort for peace.

"It's important that the Brazilian people understand that few countries have the privilege of receiving in 15 days president Shimon Peres, of Israel, president Mahmoud Abbas, of the Palestine Authority and Ahmadinejad, president of Iran," said Lula.

He condemned people from both sides who don't want to hear what the other side has to say: "Now, these are three countries that are involved in conflict, three countries that have much responsibility for peace in the Middle East, and there are many people who think we should receive only one. In other words, Iranians believe we should receive only Iran, Palestinians think we should receive only Palestinians, and Jews believe we should receive only Jews."

"Now, it happens that if there is a conflict, if there is disagreement, and it's not a short one, it's  a very long disagreement, it doesn't help to isolate people. You need to establish a dialogue, a very serious policy of conversation, so that you can believe that's possible to establish peace in the Middle East.

"I have a theory that it is not possible that we cannot find a middle way to make peace, because we believe that you need to involve other countries, other actors, other negotiators so that we can try to debate the real peace. For example: you have inside Palestine the Palestine Authority that wants peace. But you have Hamas that doesn't want peace.

"So, the first thing we need is an internal agreement inside Palestine to know if they are capable of producing a single proposal for peace that heeds the interests of several groups. You have, inside Israel, people who want peace, the president of Israel, Shimon Peres, wants peace, but certainly there are people who don't want peace. That's why it doesn't exist. 

"And it doesn't help to keep instigating discord among them. We need to find a balance point that would allow peace to happen in the Middle East. I think that the United Nations is the one who should be negotiating. The UN should be negotiating, establishing with the countries what is the criterion, what is the foundation to make the agreement and then make the agreement, and live peacefully because the world needs peace, the Middle East needs peace.

"Those people are tired of war, they are tired of death, they are tired of attacks. So, we need to find a way. It doesn't help when people keep thinking they are better than the other, it doesn't help anybody to keep accusing somebody else. You need to look a little to the past, but to think about the future, and the future needs to have peace.

"I think this is a precious moment because it shows Brazil's capacity of conversation at this time. You have a series of countries that don't talk to Iran. It doesn't help to keep Iran isolated. If Iran is an important actor in all this strife, it is important that someone sit down with Iran, talk to Iran and try to establish a balance point, so that we can return to a certain normality the in Middle East.

"I have an disquietude inside of me that goes like that: If it is true that the Palestinian people want peace and the president of the Palestine Authority wants peace, if it is true that the people of Israel want peace, and the president of Israel wants peace, it is necessary that we, now, start to ask who is the one who doesn't want peace, and detect which are the groups that are being radical not to have peace, because it is with them that we need to find partners to talk with, people who trust each other, so that we can reestablish this talk.

"It is with this conviction that I work, and because of this I talk to everybody. I do not accept intolerance of people who think that we cannot talk. He who thinks we cannot talk is as intolerant as those who don't want peace.

Lula revealed about a trip he intends to take to the Middle East. He plans to visit Jordan, Israel and Palestine in March. "More than visit, I'm already working," he says.

"I have already talked to president Shimon Peres, he agreed; I have already talked to the president of the Palestine Authority , he agreed. They promised to talk to their peers when they return to their countries and then give me an answer.

"For three years now I have a dream of promoting a peace match in a neutral stadium, of a mixed team of Israelis and Palestinians to play against the Brazilian national soccer team.  I think this would be an extraordinary score for Brazil and, above all, a very important sign for peace, because the Brazilian players are very well-known throughout the world, and I think that something like this could bring ideas to the head of many people."

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