Peres: Change in leadership not enough for Egypt

Despite calls for reform, president says Mubarak has done ‘great things for peace.’

By
February 7, 2011 03:25
2 minute read.
President Peres at the Herzliya Conference [file]

President Shimon Peres Herzliya Conference 311. (photo credit: Uri Porat / Beit Hanassi)

A change in the Egyptian leadership isn’t enough for the country facing a popular revolution against the 30-year rule of President Hosni Mubarak, President Shimon Peres said on Sunday.

Peres described the upheaval taking place in Egypt as “a revolution from the bottom up” that “wasn’t organized by an army, religion, or political parties.”

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Peres talks poverty, peace at Herzliya conference

He also called on Egypt to take care of the root causes of the upheaval, saying that “a change in leadership will not be enough,” but praised Mubarak for “doing great things for peace.”

Peres’s comments came during his keynote address at the inaugural session of the eleventh annual Herzliya Conference, Israel’s leading policy conference. The event is held at the campus of the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya and will run from February 6 to 9.

The conference brings together senior political and military leaders from Israel and around the world, and for the past decade has been a forum for the prime minister to issue a major speech on policy. Most famously, the conference was the site of then-prime minister Ariel Sharon’s unveiling of the Gaza disengagement plan in 2003.

Continuing his comments on the anti-Mubarak protests in Egypt, Peres said, “The revolution in Egypt is the younger generation’s warning about the gap between the rich and the poor.”

He added that “it is impossible to silence the civil rebellion in Egypt, not only because of the young people who want democracy but also because of the influence of the Internet.

The Internet gives poverty and depression a voice – a voice it is impossible to silence.”

Peres also spoke of the economic benefits regional peace brings, talking about a rise in tourism, modern factories, and shared economic initiatives in water, energy, environmental conservation, free trade, and other areas.

The president added “the younger generation will arm themselves with iPhones instead of stones.” He also called on the Palestinians to reach a peaceful, diplomatic compromise and to “create a democratic Palestinian state based on information and technology. In Israel, we learned that there is no contradiction between information and religion. Technology can deal with physical poverty, just as religion can deal with spiritual poverty.”

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) also addressed the conference, saying that “the issue of rising fuel prices in the world influences us as well.

It could be that in the coming days, we will witness a rise in the prices of others goods, such as coal, flour, wheat, fuel and others. The State of Israel cannot dole out subsidies every time prices rise.”


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