Israeli president says events in Tunisia, Egypt and other Arab countries represent an opportunity for Israel and the Palestinians.
The Israeli president, Shimon Peres, has welcomed “the winds of change” blowing through the Middle East and said events in Tunisia, Egypt and other Arab countries represent an opportunity for Israel and the Palestinians.
Peres’s sentiments represent a new direction for the Israeli establishment, which has monitored the rise of popular movements and fall of authoritarian regimes in the Middle East with trepidation rather than excitement.
In an article written for the Guardian, Peres hails the technological developments that have given greater emphasis to science rather than land, which has empowered younger generations and left their elders behind. He described the upheavals as a “clash of generations rather than a clash of civilisations”.
Peres, 87, took the largely ceremonial role of president in 2007 but he has served twice as prime minister and won the Nobel peace prize. He first served in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, in 1959, was instrumental in building up Israel’s military capabilities and is considered the father of Israel’s nuclear programme.
Pointing out that modern technology has enabled the creation of wealth without large amounts of territory, as was necessary in the past, he writes: “The older generation had greater respect for land than science. But we live in an age when science, more than soil, has become the provider of growth and abundance. Living just on the land creates loneliness in an age of globality.”
Peres’s article could be seen as an encouragement to some of his compatriots to give up their obsession with land and realise the need to release it for the establishment of a Palestinian state. Many Israelis are reluctant to give up territory conquered in 1967 from Syria and Jordan in exchange for peace.
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