Entrepreneurs and economics will help drive Middle East peace, according to the son of Shimon Peres.
Chemi Peres, himself a tech entrepreneur and the chairman of the Peres Centre for Peace, said business leaders and innovators “think beyond borders. By definition they build companies for the future. Israelis and Palestinians can do that together”.
He added: “My father believed in general that the world is moving from territories and land to brain power, and Israel is an example. Israel is already advanced on the journey to the new era. The Palestinians are taking their first steps, so to speak.”
Speaking to the JC, the son of the former Israeli Prime Minister and President, stressed that the Palestinians would have to tread the same path to economic development as Israel had over 70 years of existence.
Mr Peres, 59, made a visit to London to deliver a speech as the guest speaker at dinner for Magen David Adom UK, which supports Israel’s national emergency medical and disaster service.
He was also in the UK to arrange the distribution and sale of his father’s final book, No Room for Small Dreams, the final draft of which was completed two weeks before his death, in September 2016.
Discussing the Middle East conflict, Mr Peres said: “The Peres Centre is focused on reaching peace through innovation, through collaboration, sharing knowledge and the notion that when nations are becoming innovating nations there is no reason any more for them to fight over land.
“There are business connections based on large Israeli companies that employ Palestinian workers, Palestinian engineers. Or start-up companies which are created by Jews and Arabs, or funds that are managed by Jews and Arabs.”
He acknowledged, however, that the requisite infrastructure did not yet exist in the West Bank or Gaza, and that a certain degree of political stability was necessary before investment can flow into the area “full steam ahead”.
Mr Peres also commented on the financial difficulties faced by Teva Pharmaceuticals, of which he is a board member, after it was announced some 1,750 workers across Israel would face redundancy.
Teva, described by the New York Times as having a similar place in the Israeli public consciousness as General Motors does in the United States, has seen its value roughly halve in a year.
Many Israelis’ assets and pension funds were dependent on the value of the company, which is also one of the country’s largest employers, Mr Peres explained.
He said that since joining the board last summer, he had been working to “turn around this flagship company”, adding that the task was “a difficult one”.
He said: “Companies are from time to time facing challenging times. You cannot grow forever. Sometimes it is hiccoughs, sometimes it’s worse.
“(Teva) is a very important company, and a very good company, with very good assets. The share price has improved from its bottom and the signs of recovering are there.”