President Shimon Peres, US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel .
(photo credit: Mark Neiman/GPO)
Scientific and technological innovation is more effective than foreign aid in
solving fundamental national problems, agreed President Shimon Peres and US
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in their meeting on Monday.
visiting Israel to discuss regional security cooperation and the terms of a
multi-billion dollar arms deal to provide Israel with advanced military
hardware, including the highly-coveted Osprey V-22 hybrid airplane/
Pointing out that Israel had overcome her own lack of natural
resources through technological innovations, Peres said of the many countries in
the Middle East suffering from water and food shortages: “If we could do it,
they can do it.”
Hagel conveyed greetings to Peres from President Barack
Obama, who had asked him to express how much he had enjoyed his recent visit to
Israel and the time that he had spent with the Israeli president.
said in turn that Obama’s visit had been “highly important,” explaining that “if
you want to impress the concept of peace and make policy, you have to speak to
the people – and he did [so] with depth, straightforwardness and
Peres also expressed condolences to the families of the recent
Boston tragedy, and wished those who had been injured a speedy
Bringing up the issue of Iran, Peres said that Israel has
nothing against the Iranian people, only against the Iranian
“No one threatened Iran.
Why did they become a threat
to others?” he asked. If he were an Iranian, Peres continued, he would rather
see that children have food for breakfast and get a good
“What’s wrong with peace?” he further pressed, insisting that
Iran must not be allowed to become a nuclear power. “Iran is not just a threat
to Israel, but to peace in the world.”
Peres remains convinced that there
is a chance to make peace with the Palestinians.
“We started with Oslo,”
he said. “We agreed to a twostate solution.” With this foundation, he believed,
remaining differences could be resolved.
Peres told Hagel that his visit
was timely and meaningful because the security and defense relations between the
US and Israel are the best they have ever been “and it sends a message that we
are not alone.”
“Bitterness and belligerency in the Middle East is not as
political as we think or as religious as we used to think,” Peres
The reason for the bitterness and belligerency, the president
asserted, is existential.
There is not enough food and water, and people
are hungry. Peres said he genuinely wanted to see the Arab people get out of
their economic crisis, because this will change the political arena and
“We can and should make peace and help other people to
overcome their existential problems. We should prevent the Iranians from
creating a catastrophe for the world,” said Peres, expressing deep appreciation
for US cooperation on the issue.
Hagel said that it was a personal
pleasure for him to renew his friendship with Peres.
“We are living
through the defining of a new world order, and it’s still within our capability
to do something about it,” Hagel said about the turmoil in the Middle East and
around the world.
Referring to his meeting earlier in the day with
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and the helicopter ride they had taken to
Israel’s northern borders, Hagel said that he had been to the area several times
during previous visits to Israel, “but I’d never seen it the way the minister
laid it out for me.”