Peres talks poverty, peace at Herzliya Conference

President focuses on regional and global poverty; summit attended by officials, MKs, business figures, academics, media representatives.

President Shimon Peres Herzliya Conference 311 (photo credit: Uri Porat / Beit Hanassi)
President Shimon Peres Herzliya Conference 311
(photo credit: Uri Porat / Beit Hanassi)
President Shimon Peres gave the keynote address at the 11th annual Herzliya Conference's inaugural ceremony. The president addressed the ongoing unrest in Egypt and said that the cause of Egyptian and Arab peoples' dissatisfaction with their non-democratic governments is rooted in poverty.
Centering on global and regional poverty, the president said that governments' inabilities to match their economic growth to demographic growth is causing much of the unrest in the region and world today.
Peres also suggested the establishment of an "economic quartet," made up of actors from the private sector to compliment the political "Quartet for Mideast Peace." He said that in a recent telephone conversation with US Vice President Joe Biden, he had suggested exactly such an initiative. "I proposed that he summon the heads of large global companies and he will discover a willingness to help take the world out of poverty," he recalled.
Addressing the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the president implied that the recently released Palestine Papers show that although the process has limped along due to the parties' mutual suspicions of one another, "but we have seen that the Palestinians are open." He added, "We thought that they would continue to insist on the right of return for 5 million refugees, but we were wrong."
The president also praised Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, saying he "has done a lot for peace," but added that "the people of Egypt want democracy."
This year's conference, themed: “The Balance of Israel’s National Strength (hosen) and Security," is running from February 6 to 9, 2011 and is unique among the plethora of Israeli and international conferences.
The Jerusalem Post's live feed from the conference will cover speakers including President Shimon Peres, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi.
Since its inception, the Herzliya Conference has become the annual "summit meeting" of the most influential Israeli and international leaders. Participants at the Conference include: government officials, Knesset members and ministers, senior defense officials, leaders of the Israeli business community, senior academicians, media representatives from Israel and abroad, representatives from various leading Jewish organizations in the Diaspora, dignitaries from abroad and the diplomatic corps in Israel.
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