In Israel, Nobel Peace laureate Peres criticized Netanyahu last month at a meeting of foreign ambassadors, calling Abbas a reliable peace partner and saying Israeli diplomacy must change "from an aggressive approach to a moderate approach of dialogue."
That prompted Netanyahu's Likud Party to release a statement calling Peres out of touch and Abbas a "peace rejecter." It said the president's remarks to a diplomatic audience encouraged international condemnation of Israel.
The prime minister's office had no comment on Peres' remarks to the New York Times. But Cabinet minister Yisrael Katz, a close Netanyahu ally, told Israel Radio that Peres was only reinforcing a perception that Israel is to blame for the deadlock, something the government denies.
Peace talks stalled before Netanyahu took office in 2009 and resumed for only three weeks during his tenure.
Abbas says he opposes violence and favors a negotiated peace agreement, but has demanded that Israel freeze the building of all Jewish settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem as a condition for resuming talks. Netanyahu slowed some settlement construction earlier in his term, but the move failed to jumpstart serious negotiations, and he has since rejected calls to halt all construction.
Netanyahu is expected to form Israel's next government after this month's parliamentary elections, and polls show hard-liners maintaining a comfortable lead over centrist and dovish parties.
Potential coalition partners include parties opposed to Palestinian independence and those in favor of annexing parts of the West Bank.
The Palestinians claim the Israeli-occupied West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip for their hoped-for state. In November, the U.N. General Assembly recognized a state of Palestine in those territories in a largely symbolic gesture, overriding Israeli and U.S. objections.
Associated Press writer Mohammed Daraghmeh in Ramallah, West Bank, contributed to this report.