When Peres addressed Arab leaders

A couple weeks ago, Thomas Friedman dropped this pretty stunning bit of news into one of his New York Times columns:

I attended a Gulf security conference here in Abu Dhabi that included officials and experts from all over the Arab/Muslim world. In the opening session, Shimon Peres, Israel’s president, flanked by the white and blue Israeli flag, gave an address by satellite from his office in Jerusalem. Good for the United Arab Emirates, the conference sponsor, for making that happen. Seeing the Israeli president speak to an audience dotted with Arab headdresses reminded me of the Oslo days, when Israelis and Arabs held business conferences in Cairo and Amman.

That’s all he offered in a column that was focused on nuclear negotiations with Iran, and how Sunni Arabs and Israel were united in trepidation over the process.

Now, Ynet has fleshed out the story of this extraordinary Peres appearance:

In a rare event two weeks ago, President Shimon Peres appeared before 29 foreign ministers from the Gulf States, Arab League countries and other Muslim nations. The king of Saudi Arabia’s son was also among those present.

The historic event took place at the Gulf States Security Summit in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. The foreign ministers of Bahrain, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Yemen and Qatar were present, as well as foreign ministers from the Arab League and other Muslim countries, such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Bangladesh.

The report continues:

The UAE, which organized the summit, chose Peres to open the assembly, a testimony to the importance of the Israeli president during this point in time, and more so, the importance of a good relationship with Israel against the common enemy – Iran.

When the president spoke, no minister left the room, and when he finished they even gave him a round of applause.

Daniel Treiman is a contributing writer to JTA.