Shimon Peres sees eco-fuel fighting "terror"

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli President Shimon Peres on Monday hailed his country’s new weapon against the threat of “terrorism” from its Middle East neighbors -- the electric car.

Israel's President Shimon Peres attends a ceremony welcoming him to the southern town of Sderot October 31,2007. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

Outlining Israel’s development priorities in an address to foreign journalists to mark this week’s 60th anniversary of statehood, Peres said reducing global dependence on oil would curb oil-producing states’ ability to fund Israel’s enemies.

“Oil ... is not only polluting the air, it is also promoting terror,” said the 84-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner, who has long promoted Israel’s now powerful high-tech industries.

Peres argued that manifold increases in oil prices in recent years had contributed to a rise in financing for terrorism in the Middle East, and said an Israeli project to design a green car run on batteries, as well as plans to develop solar power, would in turn hit oil producing countries’ budgets.

“We are not going to fight the producers of oil,” he said. “But we are going to introduce alternatives.”

Peres took particular aim at Iran, repeating recent comments that Tehran’s nuclear program and its rhetoric against Israel may pose a greater threat than the Nazis in the 1930s and 40s.

Israel accuses Iran, a major oil and gas producer, of financing Hezbollah, the Lebanese guerrilla movement, and Hamas, which controls the Palestinian Gaza Strip, both of which are sworn enemies of Israel. The Jewish state’s relations with most of the big Arab oil producing countries are also tense.

Peres accused Iran of promoting terrorism and developing nuclear weapons -- both charges Tehran denies. He also complained of language from the Iranian president and other officials, who have called for “wiping Israel off the map”.

He said, however, he believed diplomatic rather than military action, coordinated among world powers, could prevent Iran from developing as a threat to the world at large.

“If a combination of a fanatic leadership, a terroristic centre and a nuclear bomb will come together, it’s a nightmare for the world,” he said. “It’s in a way more complicated than in the time of the Nazis. Hitler didn’t have a nuclear bomb.”

Reporting by Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Jon Boyle