Leaders call for peace push at Israel’s Presidential Conference

(JTA) — World leaders encouraged Israel and the Palestinians to move the peace process forward in the opening events of Israel’s Presidential Conference.

The conference, dubbed “Facing Tomorrow,” is a gathering of world leaders, celebrities and leading thinkers hosted by Israeli President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem. The conference began on Tuesday with a celebration of Peres’s upcoming 90th birthday, where Peres issued his familiar call for Israel to push toward a two-state solution.

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“The yesterday between us and the Palestinians is full of sadness,” he said. “I believe that the Israel of tomorrow and the Palestine of tomorrow can offer our children a ray of hope. The advancement of peace will complete the march of Israel towards the fulfillment of its founding vision.”

Peace took center-stage again on Wednesday morning, where Peres conferred Israel’s Presidential Medal of Distinction – the nation’s highest honor – on former United States President Bill Clinton. Clinton, who worked closely with Peres on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in the 1990s, also stressed the need for peace in his acceptance speech.

“There are no perfect solutions to the Israel-Palestine conflict,” he said, adding that “Somebody else’s idiotic, negative, crazy behavior should not” lead to a similarly negative response by Israel.

The conference will continue through Thursday.