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President Shimon Peres_311.(Photo by: Marc Israel Sellem)
Peres to visit Nazareth despite protest threat
By GREER FAY CASHMAN
02/20/2012
President scheduled to visit northern city for first time in 2 years as Islamic Movement, Balad threaten protests.
Notwithstanding threats of a protest by the Islamic Movement and the Balad party, President Shimon Peres will go ahead with his official visit to Nazareth, on Monday, as planned.

It will not be the first time that demonstrators have sought to put a spoke in the presidential wheel.

Peres was not deterred by protest demonstrations when he visited Nazareth in January 2008, and remains undeterred today.

Nazareth Mayor Ramiz Jaraisy told Israel Radio on Friday that he was confident he would be welcoming the president to his city on Monday.

Peres was previously in Nazareth in January 2010.

At that time he led a busload of Israeli hi-tech executives with the aim of recruiting Arab computer engineers and programmers, and thereby opening the job market to them.

Referring to the demonstration that may take place on Monday, Jaraisy said protest is perfectly legitimate providing that it is conducted in a civilized fashion. But he saw no reason for a protest demonstration to hinder a presidential visit.

Peres is scheduled to address a gathering of some 150 local dignitaries, some of whom will brief him on the city’s plans for the development of tourism and hi-tech.

He will then go to the municipal library where he will hold a story telling session with young children.

The visit will conclude with a question and answer session with some 200 Christian and Muslim high-school students.

As president, Peres has made a point of visiting peripheral communities at least once a month. He has also been careful to give consideration to minority communities when touring the country, and has visited not only Arab towns, but also Arab villages.

Peres is conscious that while equality for Arab citizens may be enshrined in law, it seldom finds expression in deed. He is keen to reverse this situation and is quietly lobbying for the country’s Arab citizens to get a better deal.
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