Leaders at Israel’s Presidential Conference call for peace push


(JTA) — World leaders at the opening events of Israel’s Presidential Conference encouraged Israel and the Palestinians to advance the peace process.

The Jerusalem conference, dubbed “Facing Tomorrow,” is a gathering of world leaders, celebrities and leading thinkers hosted by Israeli President Shimon Peres.

The conference began Tuesday with a celebration of Peres’ upcoming 90th birthday, where he issued his familiar call for Israel to push toward a two-state solution.

“The yesterday between us and the Palestinians is full of sadness,” Peres said. “I believe that the Israel of tomorrow and the Palestine of tomorrow can offer our children a ray of hope. The advancement of peace will complete the march of Israel towards the fulfillment of its founding vision.”

Peace took center stage again on Wednesday morning when Peres conferred Israel’s Presidential Medal of Distinction – the nation’s highest honor – on Bill Clinton. The former U.S. president, who worked closely with Peres on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in the 1990s, also stressed the need for peace in his acceptance speech.

“There are no perfect solutions to the Israel-Palestine conflict,” Clinton said, adding, “Somebody else’s idiotic, negative, crazy behavior should not” lead to a similarly negative response by Israel.

Peres is the world’s oldest serving head of state. His birthday is on Aug. 2.

The conference continues through Thursday.

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