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Peres’ secret Marshall Plan for the Middle East

Shimon Peres, who died last week, as president worked relentlessly to engage Israel, the Palestinians, the Arab world and global high-tech companies in his Middle East Marshall Plan for turning the region into a peaceful technological powerhouse.
Israeli President Shimon Peres gives a speech during a ceremony for late Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin at the Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem October 16, 2013, marking 18 years since Rabin was assassinated at a peace rally. Rabin was shot dead on November 4, 1995 just two years after the signing of the Oslo peace accords, for which he and Peres were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with veteran Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.  REUTERS/Gali Tibbon/Pool (JERUSALEM - Tags: POLITICS ANNIVERSARY HE

If Shimon Peres had heard the definitive eulogy that US President Barack Obama delivered over his grave, he would have swooned. The president spent 25 precious hours, most of them in flight, after canceling all his Sept. 30 appointments to attend Peres’ funeral. As Obama stood before Peres’ coffin, he said, “In many ways, he reminded me of some other giants of the 20th century that I’ve had the honor to meet … leaders who … find no need to posture or traffic in what’s popular in the moment; people who speak with depth and knowledge, not in sound bites. They find no interest in polls or fads … [who] could be true to [their] convictions even if they cut against the grain of current opinion.” These remarks were directed at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was sitting beside him, in the front row. Peres himself could not have said it any better.

Over the last year, even Peres, the eternal optimist, began sinking into severe depression. He realized that the dream of peace, which he strived to achieve for an entire generation, was being tossed aside and buried in the dung heap of history. In a conversation with Al-Monitor, which he held in his home in Tel Aviv on Dec. 11, 2015, the elderly statesman sketched the outline of his final peace plan. Just a few minutes earlier, he placed a call to US Secretary of State John Kerry to wish him a happy birthday. Just a few days before that, Kerry had rebuked Israel in a dire speech that warned of the inherent consequences of its policies in the occupied territories.

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