STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, sir, the head of the Shin Bet general security services told a cabinet meeting in Israel today, it's been reported, that Hamas has eased its demands for a cease-fire with Israel. Can you elaborate on that?
PERES: Yes. They made the demand, they made the suggestion to have a cease-fire and open the passages. To open the passages without control means to enable them to bring in more rockets, more missiles, more weapons, more supply from Iran. Doesn't make any sense that we should do it. Because it started with open passages. They could have moved around without any difficulties. We even permitted the supply of money, not only medical supply, money that we have collected to the Hamas. So what do they want, that we should open to them again, to have more supply of weapons and bombs? We say that they are -- we are not going to. And even today, by the way, one of the passages is open, because there is no shortage of basic needs in Gaza. We take care that medical equipment and food and fuel will arrive to Gaza, even today.
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, Mr. President, thank you very much for your time this morning.
PERES: Thank you.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Now for reaction here in the United States, I am joined by the number-two Democrat in the Senate, Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, the senior senator of Illinois.
Good morning, Senator. Let me get your reaction right away to President Peres. You clearly saw him, heard him this morning, no cease-fire, no withdrawal now. Is that wise?
DURBIN: Well, it's understandable. The Israeli people, of course, have been the victims of the terrorist attacks by these Hamas rockets, which are now capable of longer ranges and more damage and bloodshed, and the Israelis want to bring an end to this.
When they left the Gaza strip, it was to try to bring peace to this area, return it to the hands of the Palestinians. And sadly, the Palestinian people have been victimized by incompetent and corrupt leadership, and at this point in time, I think the Israelis have said we have to put an end to these attacks from Gaza into Israel.
A cease-fire, I hope, occurs quickly. I hope it is of a permanent and verifiable nature. But it's understandable. Israel has watched as these rockets have been launched from Gaza time and again, killing innocent people in their territory.
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK, let me turn to the situation in your own state. Governor Blagojevich, of course, as you know, appointed Roland Burris to fill the Senate seat this week. Mr. Burris said last night he is flying to Washington tomorrow. He says he is ready to serve the people of Illinois. Have you spoken to him about what will happen when he comes to Washington this week to claim the seat he thinks is his?
DURBIN: Well, I've spoken to him repeatedly, and I've known Roland for over 30 years. And George, if you listen to the commentary of those of us in Illinois, who know Roland Burris, no one has raised any questions about his integrity or his personal background.