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Peres Lauds 'Arab Initiative'

Speaking in Jordan, president says "Arab Peace Initiative" is a meaningful change and a strategic opportunity.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 5/26/2013, 6:50 PM

Shimon Peres
Shimon Peres
Flash 90

President Shimon Peres again departed Sunday from protocol by voicing an opinion on the politically charged issue of diplomatic contacts with Israel's Arab neighbors. Peres called the "Arab Peace Initiative" a “meaningful change and a strategic opportunity.”

He spoke at the World Economic Forum, which is being held in Aqaba, Jordan.

The office of president in Israel is a titular one, devoid of political powers. Peres has a different view of his role, however, and regularly intervenes in diplomacy.

This is the text of Peres' speech, as provided by his bureau:

It is a privilege to be here today.

Thank you, Your Majesty, for graciously hosting us under your roof. Your Majesty, thank you for inspiring the Middle East with responsibility and hope.

Ladies and Gentleman,

History is made of biographies of men and women who failed to forecast the future. We were born in the age of agriculture, And reborn in the age of science. This new age changed our agenda and our lives. Depending on land divided people. Borders were marked and armies were built to defend them. The yields of the land hung on the travail of farmers, and the grace of heaven that blessed us with rain or punished us with drought. The yields were limited. Science is borderless, and its achievements are limitless. Armies cannot control science. Police cannot arrest innovation.

Globality and isolation do not go together. Modern agriculture is cultivated with computers, rather than with plows. Sciences enables us to make three drops of water from one drop. Israel’s short of soil and rain, has created an agriculture based on hi-tech. Israel is sharing its experience with many other countries and is willing to share it with its neighbors as well. Israel is moved by developments, not just by events. Looking at the developments in the Middle East today, it is blessed with a young generation, one of the youngest in the world. 99 million of its inhabitants are already online. The young generation uses modern tools to enter the new age.

Friends, The Arab Spring voiced by so many youngsters may become an opportunity for jobs and progress. The age of science calls for economic cooperation, educational exchanges, and scientific collaboration. It provides equal opportunities for young and old, and equal rights for women. Despite the many hurdles on the way to peace, we must never lose sight of the positive developments in our region. Egypt and Israel made peace. Jordan and Israel made peace. These agreements stand the test of time. We extend our hand in peace to all countries in the Middle East. There is no country, no religion which we consider as enemies. The only enemies are the enemies to peace. The Iranian people are not our enemies. It is the Iranian regime's policy which is a threat to us all. Our region, and the whole world, cannot accept this brutal regime’s hegemonic ambitions. And the international community cannot tolerate brutal threatening weapons as a norm for the rest of the world.

Friends, We and our Palestinian neighbors must return to negotiations as soon as possible and bring peace. President Abbas, you are our partner and we are yours. You share our hopes and efforts for peace, and we share yours. We can and should make the breakthrough. We should not permit the hurdles to overcome us. History will judge us not by the process of negotiations but by its outcome. The today obstacles will pale in the light of peace. The "Arab Peace Initiative" is a meaningful change and a strategic opportunity. It replaces the strategies of war with the wisdom of peace. We must depart from the skepticism that claims that war is inevitable. War is not inevitable. Peace is inevitable.

We appreciate the presence of the American Secretary of State John Kerry at this gathering. Secretary Kerry brings with him an impressive momentum and desire to contribute to the completion of the peace process. It will be matched with an imaginative economic plan. President Obama, while visiting our region, offered a new opening for the peace prospect. Dear John, I know that all sides can count on your determination. The peace process already has a beginning. We have agreed on a common ground to complete it. A two state solution. A Jewish state - Israel and an Arab state - Palestine. Living side by side in peace, dignity and freedom.

Friends,

We Israelis and Palestinians are aware that peace is first and foremost for us and depends upon us. I know from experience how difficult these decisions are to make, on both sides. But this is the time. Our leaders must say yes to a future of peace. Our leaders must overcome the difficulties and the dangers, and lead their peoples to a better tomorrow. What holds back the renewal of the peace negotiation are some gaps in the bridge between the beginning and the conclusion. Knowing very well the nature of the missing link, I am convinced that this gap can be bridged.

Ladies and Gentlemen, There is still an open wound on the map and this is the terrible bloodshed in Syria. Secretary Kerry is currently trying to bring an end to this tragedy. Israel is not intervening in the Syrian crisis. We support the Secretary's efforts to bring an end to the violence. We are silent, but not indifferent. There is a need to lower the flames.

Ladies and Gentleman, The potential in our region is remarkable. The attempts to release this potential are worthy and needed. We welcome the efforts of Breaking the Impasse initiative. The fact that hundreds of business leaders from both sides are joining hands to promote the two state solution and to emphasize the urgency in reaching that solution is an important development. These people can attest to how valuable peace is for economic prospective. Peace should be made between people, not just between governments.

Friends, I am here to express the hope and desire of the Israeli people to bring an end to the conflict and a beginning to a peaceful new age. I hope that this forum will voice a timely call against skepticism. I pray that it will allow for tomorrow's horizon to shine bright. A horizon that will illuminate the fruits of freedom, science and progress. Let us cast away the divides and suspicions of the past as a future of harmony awaits. We are still writing the biography of the unknown future. My friends, it must be a future of peace. Thank you.