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Peres and Bibi address Jewish media at opening

Speaking to a room packed with journalists, Peres confirmed an earlier statement that he would be addressing the matter of the release of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, who has languished in an American prison for longer than the 27 years of Madiba’s incarceration in SA. Peres praised PA leader Mahmoud Abbas as a man he could trust.
by ANT KATZ IN JERUSALEM | Jun 22, 2014

ABOVE: Video clip of beginning of Netanyahu's speech

STORY AND PICS BY ANT KATZ REPORTING LIVE FROM THE SUMMIT


 

Security was very tight at the Ramada Hotel in Jerusalem as both President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were scheduled to speak.

Jewish media summit - PerezIn remarks contrasting Netnyahu's more wary stance earlier in the day at a Cabinet briefing, outgoing Israeli President Shimon Peres, hailed PA leader Mahmoud Abbas as "the best partner we have ever had. He made a valiant effort. He's a great leader and we must not miss the opportunity to co-operate with him.”


LEFT: President Peres taking questions from Diaspora Jewish editors in Jerusalem.

Peres chose to use a Q&A format moderated by The Times of Israel’s David Horovitz. “Abbas is the best partner Israel has ever had, and has now,” Peres began, in answer to a question from Horowitz.
 
“I have known him for 20 years. I think he’s a man of his word. I think he’s a man of courage.”

Kicking off the first Jewish Media Summit, attended by over 100 senior journalists from world Jewish media, Peres answered questions with candour. Abbas had done the right thing, “right now, before a totally Arab audience in Saudi Arabia - being clear on peace, being clear on terror, risking his life,” said Peres. Abbas’ situation was “not a simple position”.

Jewish media summit stagePeres was referring to Abbas’ STATEMENTS LAST WEDNESDAY in Saudi Arabia when Abbas said: “Those who perpetrated this act want to destroy us [the Palestinians],” Abbas, who was visiting Saudi Arabia, added: “The three (abducted Israeli) young men are human beings just like us and must be returned to their families.”

Israeli forces, aided by PA security, have been engaged in a widespread operation against Hamas in the West Bank since the kidnapping last week Thursday night south of Jerusalem of Eyal Yifrach, 19, Gil-ad Shaar, 16 and Naftali Frankel, 16. Israeli officials have blamed Hamas for the abduction, as have Western officials including US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Abbas, who first condemned the kidnapping last Monday, also mentioned that he had been in conversation with US officials, who noted that one of the captives, Naftali Frankel, is an American citizen. “We told them that whether Israeli or American, he is a human being,” he said.

Speaking to a room packed with journalists, Peres confirmed an earlier statement that he would be addressing the matter of the release of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, who has languished in an American prison for longer than the 27 years of Madiba’s incarceration in South Africa.

Abbas demanded last week Wednesday at a meeting in Saudi Arabia of foreign ministers from the Muslim world, that the three Israeli teenage yeshiva students abducted on June 12 at the Alon Shevut Junction be returned.

The president added that what Abbas “did right now before a totally Arab audience … being clear on peace, being clear on terror, risking his life”, was “not a simple position”. Peres said he did not know of “anyone else on the Arab side who would do it”.

Peres’ comments in praise of Abbas contrasted starkly with a far more wary assessment delivered earlier in the day by Prime Minister Netanyahu, who said Abbas’ condemnation rang hollow as long as he maintained a unity government with Hamas.

Whereas Peres listened, Netanyahu spoke

More than 100 senior journalists from all around the world also heard from the prime minister..

Jewish Media Summit Bibi
RIGHT: Prime Minister Benjamin 'Bibi' Netanyahu at the Ramada Hotel.

But, whereas Peres had taken questions, the prime minister chose to deliver an address. He made an impassioned appeal to the international Jewish journalists to get the good news about Israel out to the world.

He spoke of being appalled at the US Presbyterian Church’s decision (yesterday) to divest from Israel.

Would they prefer to invest in the failed states surrounding Israel, he asked. Netanyahu stressed the positive Israeli parable, the wealth of the country and its intellectual capital.

Every cell phone, every medication in the world relied on some level of Israeli research and development, he said.

In a News Brief on ARUTZ SHEVA headlined: “Netanyahu: Israel's Foes Not Averse to Any Means” tonight, the website said that Netanyahu used the Jerusalem Media Summit to express his condolences to Fahmi Karakara, an Arab defence contractor from the Lower Galilee who was wounded and lost his 15-year-old son in an explosion on the Golan Heights earlier in the day.

Netanyahu said: "Israel's enemies are not averse to using any means, they're not averse to attacking civilians, to kill children, as happened this morning. They don't discriminate between Israel's Jewish and non-Jewish civilians."

Referring to the recent abduction of the three yeshiva students in Judea, the prime minister added: "As a people, our heart is torn with the kidnapping of every youth and the murder of every youth and I'm sure I represent everyone when I send my condolences." 

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