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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Liveblog - Closing session of President's Conference

This is a liveblog of the final session of the President's conference Tomorrow2011. Prime Minister Netanyahu is now speaking. He opens with Gilad Shalit. Hamas gave notice today that it will not allow the Red Cross to visit Gilad Shalit and therefore Netanyahu is changing the policy and all the great conditions the terrorists get in Israeli jail will be stopped. Just compliance with Israeli and international law. For example, terrorists in Israeli jails for murder of innocent Israelis will no longer be allowed to register for university degrees.

He also wishes to think American, French, Italian and other leaders who demanded that the Red Cross be allowed to visit Gilad Shalit. He believes that if we unify and continue to pressure Hamas, he is certain that we will advance Gilad Shalit's freedom until he returns home.

Peres told him to think about Israel's future. He sees it as regional economic power and world technological power living at peace with its neighbors. He is speaking about each of those elements.

Unemployment 5.8% - lowest in 15 years. 5% growth rate every year since 2004 except 2008.

He talked about railroads.

He talked about where we're investing in technology.

Talked about education reform - giving teachers merit-based compensation.

Then he talks about peace. Peace is possible and it's within our reach but to get there we have to deal with the core issue that has stood in the way. The core issue of the conflict is that the 'Palestinians' won't recognize Israel. Abu Mazen must do what Bibi did and say to the 'Palestinians' "I will accept the Jewish state." (He'd be killed the next morning. This won't happen). Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people. He hopes that the 'Palestinians' will do it - accept the Jewish state and let's make peace once and for all. Applause kind of tepid.

Sharansky next up. He expands on a lot of this morning's themes. Says those who belong in the tent are those who support a Jewish democratic state. People want to be free and they want to belong and the challenge is whether those two can work together or be threat to each other.

For Jews freedom and identity always go together.

Moderator now speaking. 3800 people here - 1800 of them from abroad.

Peres is up next. He thanks everyone for coming. He has an advantage because he is older than all of us and he remembers the early days of the State. He's rambling - now he's talking about a meeting between Ben Gurion and DeGaulle.

Now he says that he wants the 'Palestinian state' to be the first Arab state to enjoy democracy and to live in freedom and peace like we do. (Maybe it's time to put up that Peres as astronaut picture again...).

We pray for Jordanian security and independence and freedom.

Numerically we should have lost every war.

Now he's repeating a lot of things he said this morning.

And now he's rambling about peace in Hebrew.

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