Jerusalem, 29 October 1995


(Communicated by Foreign Ministry Spokesman)

On, Sunday, 29.10.95 Foreign Minister Shimon Peres spoke to those attending of the Jerusalem Business Conference. The main elements of his speech were as follows:

– We neither wish to nor are we capable of dominating the economy of the Middle East as has been heard from certain sources. This is a ridiculous accusation. Essentially, for most of the countries in this region there is no substantive economy only poverty, so there is nothing to dominate, and to tell the truth, economic development is attained through innovation and competition not through control. If someone, for example, buys a Japanese television it is because of its quality not because the Japanese have forced him to buy it at gunpoint. Economic rule by force is not possible.

– I do not believe in donations. I don’t think that something like the Marshall Plan could save someone today. Economic assistance must be intended to build an economy that can save itself. We should not speak of giving but rather of partnership, and investments must primarily be focussed on three elements tourism, education and water.

– Tourism is not just a leading economic branch throughout the world, but is also the best political activity. Tourism and hotels bring about a national relaxation, and create an unmistakeably clear interest in national stability and calm. I prefer an additional one million tourists to an additional hundred thousand soldiers.

– Poverty and the economic freeze have created in our region, a situation in which the desert rules broad areas and widens the circle of poverty. There must be a priority given to investments in areas related to water and saving the land through industrial modernization, pipes, canals for example desalination, circulation and irrigation. Water neither chooses its boundaries nor chooses between the political left or right. Therefore, the solution to the water problem must be one in which we all participate.

– The education and preparation of our young generation will enable them to cope with future challenges rationally. The struggle with economic retardation and the fundamentalism it spawns, forces us to focus on giving all the young people in our region a good education.