Richard Gere has lashed out at Israel over its settlements in territory that Palestinians want for a state. The Pretty Woman star came to Jerusalem for the local premiere of a new film by Israeli writer-director Joseph Cedar in which he stars, reports the AP. A story in Sunday's Haaretz quoted the actor as saying "settlements are such an absurd provocation ... and they are certainly not part of the program of someone who wants a genuine peace process." "Obviously," he said, "this occupation is destroying everyone."
Gere said he struggled with the question of whether to make an appearance in Israel. "I had people on all sides—those who have been close friends and people I barely knew—telling me not to come," he said. "I had people living here who told me, ‘Look, no good will come of this. The bad guys will use you’—‘bad guys’ meaning the policy-makers of this government. It was a complex month of going back and forth: 'I’m coming … I’m not coming.'" Gere is currently starring in Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer, The international community mostly considers settlements illegal and an obstacle to peace. Israel says settlements along with other core issues like security should be resolved in peace talks. (Read more Richard Gere stories.)