Peres opens Israel pavilion at Venice Arts Biennale

President voices pride in Israeli artists, meets with Venice Jewish community; met with Medvedev, discussed Syria arms deals, peace.

President Shimon Peres in Venice 311 (photo credit: Moshe Milner / GPO)
President Shimon Peres in Venice 311
(photo credit: Moshe Milner / GPO)
President Shimon Peres, on an official visit to Italy arrived in Venice on Friday under heavy guard to join Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat in opening the Israeli pavilion at the Venice Biennale.
In his address at the opening, Peres voiced his pride in the creative abilities of Israeli artists, crediting them with many brilliant breakthroughs, and declaring them to be worthy of appreciation not just on the home front but in the world at large.
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Livnat was equally proud and said it was a privilege to present the best of Israeli art to the whole world. She was particularly complimentary about artist Sigalit Landau who is representing Israel in Venice.
Later in the day, Peres held a welcoming of the Sabbath ceremony with leaders of the Venice Jewish community.
On Thursday, in the course of participating with other world leaders in Italy's 150th anniversary celebrations of unification as well as of Republic Day, Peres met inter alia with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev who he urged not to sell advanced weapons systems to Syria; and with Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas who he tried to persuade to revive the peace process and to immediately resume negotiations with Israel.
In his discussions with Medvedev, Peres noted that Syria is undergoing a period of critical change in which it is difficult to anticipate what will happen next, especially taking into account that Syrian President Bashar Assad is responsible for the cold-blooded murder of thousands of innocent people who were demonstrating against his regime.
Against this backdrop of uncertainty said Peres, it was essential that no one, especially Russia, should supply Syria with modern, advanced weaponry.
With regard to the Palestinians, Peres asked that Russia join the United States in exerting heavy pressure on Hamas to accept and respect the principles laid down by the Quartet. Israel is ready to return to the negotiating table immediately if the Hamas issue is resolved, Peres told Medvedev, underscoring that the world must understand that Israel cannot tolerate a situation in which Abbas is flanked by a murderous terrorist organization that seeks Israel's destruction.
Medvedev reiterated Russia's endorsement of the principles of the Quartet, adding that Russia believes that if Hamas changes its tune and accepts the principles of the Quartet, then there is a possibility that cooperation between Hamas and Fatah will yield some positive results.
As far as the Israel-Palestinian conflict is concerned, Medvedev said that Russia completely concurs with the views expressed by US President Barack Obama, and like many other countries, was concerned at the Israel Government's policy of settlement expansion. Peres assured him that a change of attitude and behavior on the part of Hamas, that includes cessation of hostilities against Israel and renunciation of terror would find positive and creative reciprocity on Israel's part..
Peres, who has previously invited Medvedev to visit Israel, this time presented him with an official invitation saying that Israel wanted the opportunity to show its appreciation to Russia and to strengthen strategic ties between the two countries.
Medvedev replied that he would be pleased to accept, but did not set a date. He thanked Peres warmly for the transfer of Sergei's Courtyard in Jerusalem back to Russian ownership and also expressed his pleasure at the signing of a series of bilateral cooperation agreements in the fields of space exploration, science, and advanced technologies.
Before leaving Italy, Peres held working meetings with several other world leaders.
Back home on Sunday evening, Peres, together with Israel's fifth President Yitzhak Navon, Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat will officially open the magnificent David Amar World Center for North African Jewish Heritage which has been under construction for three years under the supervision of WCNAJH chairman Haim Cohen.