Peres to Herzliya Conference: “A change in leadership (in Egypt) will not be enough”

image courtesy Ori Porat

In the keynote address of the inaugural session at the eleventh annual Herzliya Conference, Israel’s President Shimon Peres, discussed the current political position in Egypt, noting that “a change in leadership will not be enough” and “there is a need to take care of the root causes…. President Mubarak has done great things for peace and the young people want democracy.”

Basing the bulk of his keynote address on the current situation in Egypt, the President noted that it was a spontaneous revolution from the bottom up, and “not organized by an army, a religion or political parties. “It is a social rebellion rather than a political one” with the internet driving it.

He stressed, this “is a revolution that comes from computers rather than from flags,” adding that it was the advent of the internet that had given poverty a voice and an endurance. “You can lock the doors but the internet opens the windows”, he said. Pres. Peres wanted his audience to understand that this was a revolution by youth “wearing t-shirts and jeans”.

President Peres referred to a weekend conversation with US Vice President, Joe Biden, where he proposed the creation of “a global economic quartet, made up of the heads of non-governmental sectors” who have a desire to see the world’s nations out of poverty.

He noted that there was a real desire by the young people of today to repair the problems and mistakes of the past and that these people refused to accept the economic divide between rich and poor and could now compare their situations with other youth around the world. He noted that the entire Middle East region needed to free itself from poverty in order to truly be able to move ahead. “History has lost its patience. It’s going at a rapid pace. Either it will gallop on ahead or we will gallop on after it.”

However, relating to Israel’s security issues with the Palestinians, Peres stated the need for Israel to come to an agreement with the Palestinians as soon as possible. “The recent dramatic events raise the need to rid the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the agenda. The conflict is being used by all sides for the worse. The peace process is crucial for our neighbors – not just for us.” “We know that there must be two states.” He said that these two neighbors, Israel and Palestine will live together in peace and fight against terror together.

about: The Herzliya Conference is the flagship of the Institute of Policy and Strategy (IPS) at the Lauder School of Government of IDC Herzliya. The Herzliya Conference addresses Israel’s national agenda by encouraging public debate and influencing the country’s public policy planning. This is achieved through convening Israeli and international elite policy makers, conducting cutting edge research, fostering a global network of contacts in a public forum by attracting the best and the brightest to take part in the conference and its discussions.