President Shimon Peres is tight-lipped as to whether or not he will be representing Israel at the United Nations General Assembly in New York next week.

Peres, who hosted a changing of the guard reception for a delegation of Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America on Tuesday, was asked by new National President Marcie Natan whether he would consider coming to the United Nations next week “because no one can represent the State of Israel like you can.”

Peres did not reply.

At the close of the reception, when asked point blank by The Jerusalem Post whether he was going to New York, he compressed his lips and held both hands up in the air, palms stiff, before being whisked away by senior aides.

However, the flurry of urgent activity at the President’s Residence suggested that Peres was indeed readying for very serious business.

The Hadassah reception which had initially been scheduled for 4 p.m., was rescheduled for 5:15 p.m., and even then, Peres, who was in the adjacent office and separated from his guests by a single door, was 15 minutes late.

One of his most senior advisors tried to get him to wrap up the Hadassah meeting as quickly as possible. However, Peres, conscious of the enormous debt that Israel owes to Hadassah, which has been providing health and other services for almost a century, refused to be rushed, and kept posing for photographs with various personalities.

He congratulated Hadassah on playing a vital role in the effort to bring an end to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

Citing a figure of 6,500 sick Palestinian children who have been brought to Hadassah with one or both parents and been treated with care, Peres said that this was an important investment toward peace and created a lot of goodwill among the Palestinians.

“You should be proud,” he told the delegation.

He also commented that Hadassah has Jewish and Arab doctors working side-by-side treating Jewish and Arab patients who are hospitalized side-by-side, proving that coexistence is definitely possible, even under difficult circumstances.

He wondered why Jews and Arabs could live in peace when they were sick but opted to fight when they were healthy.

Aside from what Hadassah is doing for peace, Peres predicted that it would be a major player in the next phase of Israeli priorities.

Israel has gone from an agriculture- based economy to one that was based on electronics, the president noted. The top priorities over the next decade are medicine, biology and brain research, which are all areas in which Israel excels, said Peres, and in which Hadassah will be a significant force.

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