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Iran warning, message of hope end Israeli Presidential Conference

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, interrupted by protesters, delivered more warnings on Iran as the Israeli Presidential Conference came to a close.

President Shimon Peres offered a message of hope as the two-day conference in Jerusalem ended on Thursday.

Netanyahu, repeating his frequent call to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, said the international community must keep demanding that Iran halt its nuclear program despite the recent election of a new president seen as relatively moderate.

“We may be seeing a change in style but not a change in substance,” he said. “The test is not what they say but what they do.”

As Netanyahu began his speech, protesters shouted inaudible slogans about his government’s recently formulated policy that would have Israel exporting 40 percent of its natural gas. Security personnel removed the protesters and, except for one protest, Netanyahu spoke uninterrupted.

The prime minister in his address outlined his core policies and, playing off the conference’s name, “Facing Tomorrow,” said he wished for “a tomorrow of security, prosperity and peace.”

Netanyahu also praised the Israeli economy’s recent growth and repeated his desire to enter peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority without preconditions. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has called for Israel to freeze West Bank settlement construction before negotiations begin.

“We want to achieve peace,” Netanyahu said. “I want to achieve peace. The only way to achieve peace and to end the negotiations for peace is to begin the negotiations for peace. We’re ready to begin negotiations now, without preconditions. We hope the Palestinians are ready. We want to achieve peace.”

Peres, reflecting on the two-day confab of world leaders, celebrities and thinkers, said the conference “demonstrated the greatest things about Israel.”

“Israel is small in size and great in hope,” he said. “This is all a legitimization of Israel, to its strength and its path forward. It showed the strength of friendship for Israel.”

 

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