In an unprecedented event, President Shimon Peres spoke from his office in Jerusalem via satellite to 29 foreign ministers from Arabic and Muslim countries at the Persian Gulf Security Summit in Abu Dhabi two weeks ago.
While Peres spoke, none of the attendees left the room and some even applauded his remarks, according to Israel daily Yedioth Ahronoth, which reported Monday that Peres talked about how Israel can be a contributing factor in the Middle East and that there is an opportunity for dialogue between Israel and its neighbors about their common concerns, such as the fight against Islamic extremism and Iran’s nuclear program. Peres also presented his vision of global peace.
“There was a lot of excitement from both sides about [Peres's address],” said an official who was involved in organizing the event. “Everybody understood that this was something historic: the president of the Jewish state sitting in his office in Jerusalem with an Israeli flag and [the foreign ministers] sitting in the Persian Gulf discussing security, the war on terror and peace.”
Peres, who was chosen by the summit’s organizer, the United Arab Emirates, to open the conference, was interviewed via satellite by UN Under Secretary-General Terje Rød-Larsen. As per the conditions for Peres’s appearance, the president and the foreign ministers only spoke through Larsen, and none of the content was leaked to the press.
Among the countries represented were Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Yemen, Qatar, Indonesia, Malaysia and Bangladesh.
New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, who was at the Abu Dhabi event, initially noted Peres’s address at the conference in an article two weeks ago.
While Israel and much of the Arab and Muslim world are generally at odds, they have recently found some common ground in their opposition to Iran’s rogue nuclear program and concerns about US-led negotiations to thwart that program.