Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein was set to turn a speech about the environment into an invitation for dialogue with neighbors in the Middle East in his address to the World Conference of Speakers of Parliament at the UN in New York on Monday.
“My friends and neighbors in the Middle East,” he said in a speech that The Jerusalem Post obtained a copy of on Sunday, “let us talk, people to people, parliament to parliament.
Come to Jerusalem. Come to the Knesset. Meet with me. Sit with me. Talk with me.”
Edelstein pointed out that he and his colleagues do not have the authority to define borders and make peace, but that they should not sit back and wait for their governments to reach agreements on their own.
“We can lay the foundations for any future peace by fostering international and regional cooperation on issues that transcend national borders,” he states, explaining that achieving sustainable development goals requires working across borders, even between states that do not have diplomatic relations.
“Let’s talk water. Let’s talk clean air. Let’s talk prosperity. Let’s talk partnerships. And peace? And borders? These talks, I assure you, will follow,” Edelstein is set to say.
The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), which organized the conference, can facilitate such talks, the speaker suggested.
Edelstein expressed pride in the Green Knesset initiative, which puts sustainable development goals into practice by recycling water and paper and cutting down electricity use through solar power and other advanced technologies.
“We are now one of the greenest parliaments in the world,” Edelstein said. “I challenge you, my distinguished colleagues, to make similar efforts.”
Edelstein added that the Knesset proposed to make information available via the IPU about Israeli technologies and innovations in agriculture, genetics, innovation and other areas and urged other countries to take advantage of it.
Edelstein opened his speech the same way the Torah opens, with the creation of the world: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth,” saying the environment is a divine creation that must be honored and protected.
The speaker ended his speech with the creation, as well, pointing out that Jews all over the world will soon celebrate it on Rosh Hashana.
Edelstein called the holiday “a time to consider the tremendous power we have been given to shape the world and determine the course of global history...
Let us partner with our Creator and with all our fellow men to make this a healthier, saner and safer world for future generations.”