Peres asks US lawmakers to aid ‘Arab Spring’

“We believe that the awakening of the Arab world is a great opportunity and that all of us should do whatever we can [to help],” president says.

By HILARY LEILA KRIEGER
April 7, 2011 02:45
2 minute read.
Peres in Washington with key members of Congress

Peres with Congressmen 311. (photo credit: Mark Neiman/GPO)

 
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WASHINGTON – President Shimon Peres urged members of Congress on Wednesday to ensure that America supports the democratic forces and struggling economies in the Arab world, so that a moment of opportunity will not be lost.

“We believe that the awakening of the Arab world is a great opportunity and that all of us should do whatever we can [to help],” Peres said following a meeting with House leaders before heading over to the Senate. “The moment that the Arab world will become free and open and peaceful it will be a major change in the world experience and in the annals of the Middle East.”

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He spoke standing alongside Republicans House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. As Democrats and Republicans lock horns over the US federal budget amid a looming government shutdown, the unity was a rare public display in honor of the Israeli president.

Peres thanked them for their bipartisan support, and for America’s strong backing for the Jewish state based on shared values and interests.

“No matter who is in power in the United States, we speak with one voice in our support for Israel, no matter who is in power in Israel,” Pelosi said.

Cantor described the meeting as “very productive,” adding, “We understand that the road toward peace is still a very rough one, and the search for a partner in peace for Israel in the Middle East is still ongoing.”

Peres acknowledged the difficulties that lay ahead at as appearance at the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace. He was the guest of honor at the event, where he was interviewed on stage by Wolf Blitzer of CNN.

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“It is a possibility, not a certainty,” he said of the prospects for peace. He hinted at a possible path towards progress though he didn’t elaborate. “I think there is an attempt to achieve it, but I wouldn’t go into details, and I wouldn’t give up the hope that we can reopen negotiations.”

Peres also pointed to the implications the Israeli-Palestinian peace process has for what happens in surrounding countries and how neighbors perceive Israel.

“This conflict may color the final results of the revolution of the young generation,” he said.

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