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President Shimon Peres has no intention of continuing on to an additional term. Although rumors are spreading, Peres has indicated that he will be satisfied with the seven years the law has granted him as president. “I received seven years, and I think that is fair,” he said in a special interview to Ynet ahead of Israel’s 65th Independence Day.
“I think that the president should be switched, and I have no intention of asking to stay. I think that it is hard to show restraint for so many years, and moreover, everyone knows my opinion. I want to run forward, to return to the new world.”
Such is our president: Even prior to his 90th birthday, which he will celebrate in splendor and grandeur, he has no intention of retiring. He still dreams of peace with the Palestinians, of good relations with the entire Arab world, and is pushing the world and Israeli science in the direction of brain research.
A conversation cannot be conducted with the president without the issue of brain research being mentioned at least five times. The buzz in Washington is that US President Barack Obama decided to allocate millions to brain research in the United States after hearing what Peres had to say on the subject.
With all due respect to the brain, we told Peres that the main problem is peace with the Palestinians. “I think there are no two ways about it, and there will be peace,” said the president. “No on can live in the current intermediate situation. But look what is happening: There is no intifada in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip, and Hamas is losing public support.
“You ask yourselves when peace will come. I do not know. I have a handless clock. It doesn’t matter what time it is, because tomorrow morning you can wake up and see a new reality. No one has any idea, but I do think that by the country’s 70-year celebrations, there will be peace. I want to hope. It is not just optimism,” he told Ynet.
Peres believes that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is considered by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a refuser of peace, is actually capable of signing a peace agreement with Israel. According to Peres, “we have already arrived at a line of unprecedented agreements with Abu Mazen (Abbas). His situation has improved because for the first time he has someone to lean on – he has his security-related power, and that is important since political support in the Arab countries comes from the military.”
The president added: “I don’t believe that the Jordanian army and the Palestinian security forces will agree that Hamas will come and take control over them. Therefore, an anti-Hamas force has been created and I believe that Abu Mazen (Abbas) is strong enough to make serious decisions. He understands that he must decide between terror and peace – there is nothing else. He chose peace and he demonstrated courage…and there is an agreement on how to end the conflict – two states for two nations.”
Peres refrains from publicly criticizing Netanyahu . He only broke this rule once, when he truly feared that Netanyahu and former Defense Minister Ehud Barak would lead Israel to a military adventure in Iran.
An Israeli team of 17 minor hockey players, aged 10 to 14, was in Winnipeg last week and, despite their religious differences, their only opposition was the team at the other end of the rink.
“It is very exciting,” said Itamar Melzar, 10, from Metula, Israel, with the help of a translator. “There are so many opportunities for hockey here.”
They are students of the Canada Israel Hockey School based in the northern Israeli city of Metula and, on Sunday, they faced off against the Corydon Comets Pewee A3 team.
The team consists of 12 Jewish and five Muslim children from the Galilee region, said Shelley Faintuch, community relations director for the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg.
“These kids wouldn’t have an opportunity otherwise to play hockey together. They don’t all live in the same town,” she said. “The Muslim kids actually travel over two hours by car to get to the ice rink in Metula twice a month. It is an entire outing and it mobilizes the entire family.”
Mike Mazeika, a Canadian, has been living and teaching hockey at the Metula school for 13 months.
“It is so rewarding,” said Mazeika. “I’m actually getting emotional… some of these kids could barely skate five days ago and today they played so well.”
DJ Schneeweiss, the Israeli consul general, flew in from Toronto to watch the students take on the local team on Sunday. He said bringing the students to Canada can educate Canadians about the culture of Israel that is often misinterpreted.
“It brings a young face of Israel into Canada and very completely human face,” said Schneeweiss.
Schneeweiss said with conflict in the Middle East, playing hockey in Metula can be a healthy distraction.
“When you go into an area like that, it’s all self-contained. It’s sort of its own world. And I think that’s probably a good thing; it allows them to sort of shut out what may be going on outside.”
While in Winnipeg, the students played and practised their hockey skills for 90 minutes each morning. In the evenings, they participated in different Canadian activities such as bowling, curling and sledding before returning to their billet families.
Marla Vittera hosted the two youngest visitors, Amit Vinegrad, 11, and Itamar.
“It’s been exhausting but very rewarding,” said Vittera. “They have been doing so many things but they are enjoying themselves.”
Vittera said they enjoy the basic Canadian food.
“I took the time and made a great spaghetti dinner and no response,” said Vittera.
“I made chicken fingers and fries the next night and I’m a hero.”
Itamar’s favourite Canadian food on his visit has been pizza. While in Winnipeg, not only has his appetite improved, Itamar said his hockey skills have improved, too.
“They taught me a few new things that I didn’t know before,” said Itamar through his translator. “There a lot more opportunities here, so I feel that I am better.”
Itamar’s team is called the Macabi Young Metula.
By the end of the first period they were down 1-0 to the Comets. By the end of the second, it was 2-2. But in the third period, the Israeli team succumbed to the Comets 5-2.
It didn’t matter to the fans though. The cheers were loud for every save and every goal.
Moustafa M. Soliman lives on Massachusetts Avenue, Washington DC’s Embassy Row. His home is spacious, with luxuriant furniture fit for any one of his foreign neighbors.
Following the successful career he held at the US Department of Energy in various senior positions, and after promoting a few joint Israeli-Egyptian-Palestinian energy-related US-led projects, Soliman knows a thing or two about disappointments surrounding the notion of peace in the Middle East.
Soliman is a man with a dream, but he is no eccentric and nobody’s fool. He looks a great deal younger than his 76 years, with mass amounts of energy and plans to promote peace between Israel and the Arabs. Over the next few weeks, he is planning on taking D.Cc’s streets by storm via his Star of David and crescent-adorned “Peace Truck.”
The “Peace Truck” will have one window, where a religious Jew will stand selling kosher food, and another with a Muslim selling halal food and traditional sweets.
“It needs to be theatrical. The salesmen will be two upstanding people who can serve and sell food but no less important, discuss politics and peace with the customers. “I am looking for dialogue,” Soliman told Ynet.
Soliman left Egypt for his doctoral studies in civil engineering at the University of California, Berkeley.
This was long long ago, in 1959 following the Suez Crisis and prior to the Six Day War, when then-Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser still had plans of driving the Jews into the sea.
Following a period of time in the civil sector at the “Aerospace” company in Los Angeles, Soliman joined the US Department of Energy in 1974, when the department was still a small administration of the American government.
“After ten years, I became responsible for energy-related cooperation especially with Middle Eastern countries. I was responsible for planning, managing negotiations and implementing energy-related cooperation with Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.”
The first initiative that Soliman promoted was a three-way Egyptian-Israeli-American one called the Solar Peace Project. “The idea was to create a US-funded project in the Suez Canal with Israeli and American technologies on Egyptian soil and with Egyptian manpower.
“We began working on the initiative during the Clinton administration,” Soliman recalls. “Towards the year 2000, Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson left the slowly withering project.”
“I was involved in the initial talks for the gas project between Egypt and Israel which was supposed to make its way to Turkey, Jordan and The Palestinian Authority,” said Soliman. “Ariel Sharon was appointed as Minister of National Infrastructure (1996) and I think that he was not so thrilled with Israel being dependent on Egyptian gas. In the end, a much less ambitious project was established than that which we planned.”
President Sandro Rosell and vice president Javier Faus will be departing on Thursday for a two-day trip to Israel and Palestine to strengthen institutional and commercial ties with representatives of both communities. The Barça directors will have a tight schedule that includes interviews with major Israeli and Palestinian figures, and visits to such emblematic places. The visit to Israel will also include a floral offering at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial.
Among others, Rosell and Faus will be meeting in Tel Aviv with Israeli president Shimon Peres. In Ramallah, the capital of the West Bank, the two FCB representatives will be speaking to the president of the Palestinian National Authority, Mahmud Abbas, and members of the Palestinian Executive at the Muqata, including General Jibril Rajoub, president of the Palestinian Football Federation and Olympic Committee.
The FC Barcelona president and vice president will be attending a meeting on Thursday with Shimon Peres and the two presidents will be making a joint institutional statement at the Kfar Hamaccabiah. Rosell will then be visiting the Peres Centre for Peace in Jaffa. On Friday, the Barça party will be travelling to Ramallah for an interview with Mahmud Abbas and Rajoub, at the Muqata, and will then be giving a press conference.
FC Barcelona is the most supported sports club both among Israelis and Palestinians, and has always defended the universal values and social commitments that have led it to participate in so many cooperation projects around the world. Barça is doing its own bit by seeking forms of understanding and agreement among the Israeli and Palestinian people through sport and education.
The club knows that peace can only be possible by a strengthening of the trust between the two communities. In recent years, FCB has been taking part in events and activities that have contributed to this cause. In 2005, a game was played to foster peace in the Middle East against the Peace Team, formed by Israeli and Palestinian players (2-2), by initiative of Lluís Bassat and Shimon Peres, who were joined by Palestinian Minister for Agriculture Walid Abed Rabo. In July 2011, Mahmud Abbas visited FC Barcelona, where he was welcomed by institutional vice president Carles Vilarrubí.
FC Barcelona believes it is important for children to be involved in this peace process. In this regard, in October 2011, the club’s Foundation organised a meeting between Israeli and Palestinian children at its La Masia Oriol Tort training facility and residence, where the youngsters attended peace workshops and played matches together. The FC Barcelona Foundation also collaborates with YaLa, the youth social movement created by initiative of the Peres Center for Peace to foster coexistence between the two communities, organising events and activities on the club facilities whenever they visit Barcelona.
The schedule of this trip is subject to last minute changes. The venues and times of the places where President Rosell will be speaking to the media will be announced shortly.
Source: FC Barcelona
Iranian-born Israeli singer Rita, whose albums are being sold on Iran’s black market, is about to make history once again: On March 5 she will perform at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, an privilege shared by few artists in the past, including Beyoncé.
Rita will perform songs in Persian from her latest album, “My Joys,” as well as some of her greatest hits.
The performance is expected to be viewed by the UN secretary-general, the General Assembly president, ambassadors and diplomats, leaders of the Jewish and Iranian communities and American artists.
Israeli Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor will address the audience before Rita takes the stage.
“The world will get to see the real Iranian bomb – Rita,” he jokes.
According to the ambassador, “The sounds usually heard at the General Assembly hall are of condemnation and criticism against us. During Rita’s performance, different sounds will echo – sounds of hope, peace and multiculturalism. This is the real sound of Israel.
“While we connect people through music, the only instruments the Iranian leadership plays on are the drums of war.”
Rita’s performance at the UN was devised when Prosor attended the singer’s concert in New York several months ago.
“Only a person like him can find the courage and leadership, in a world losing its sanity, to create such a unique opportunity for an international musical performance that could benefit our world, even if just a little bit,” says Rita, who is very excited ahead of the performance.
“I am totally aware of the rareness of this event, especially with the UN secretary-general, General Assembly president and ambassador speaking there.”
The upcoming UN performance stands as further proof of the fact that Rita’s Farsi album has gained popularity widely beyond expectations.
“The proximity of events has led to the release of the Persian album during our most tense period with the Iranian regime – and I stress, not with the Iranian people,” she says.