The three-day long Presidential Conference got underway in Jerusalem on Wednesday morning with its first plenary session, featuring President Shimon Peres, the Middle East Quartet's envoy Tony Blair, and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
At the end of the session, Peres awarded former U.S. President Bill Clinton with Israel's highest disctinction, the President's Award.
The fifth annual 'Facing Tomorrow' conference, hosted by Peres, will comprise a plethora of plenary sessions, panel discussions, roundtables and master classes, featuring prominent societal leaders behind a wide spectrum of initiatives.
This year's conference coincides with Peres' 90th birthday, a months-long celebration bringing honored guests to Israel from across the world.
11: 38 A.M. Clinton: None of us is perfect or will win. The important thing is to stay on path and keep looking and keep working. Bless you.
11: 36 A.M Clinton: Israel should always be seen in a state of becoming. The whole region as well. But someone's idiotic crazy behavior cannot be an excuse for a response by you in kind.
11: 35 A.M. Clinton: Many reasons for continued mistrust between Israelis and Palestinians. But one thing I know is, the lesson that was driven home, if you are compelled to share a future, you have to determine the terms of this future. There is no perfect answer.
11:34 A.M. Clinton: I accept this award because I feel like a poor pilgrim on a constant journey to expand the definition of 'us' and shrink definition of 'them.'
11: 31 A.M. Clinton: We have to let go. All of life is a struggle to expand who is "us" and shrink who is the "them."
11: 29 A.M. Clinton: We have to let go. In an independent world we don't get to stop we just have to show up and go on.
11:24 A.M. Clinton: It is nice to receive an award, but there are no final victories in Tikkum Olam, there are no perfect warrior for peace.
11: 23 A.M. Clinton: The great beauty of the State of Israel that allowed it to become a start-up nation and a center of innovation for the whole world is that it was seen as a safe place for the people of Israel to learn that they no longer need to be victims.
11: 17 A.M. Clinton: We live in a time where we truly are interdependent. We cannot escape consequences of what others do or what we do. There is a constant struggle for Tikkun Olam.
11: 14 A.M. Clinton: The search for peace and reconciliation and a shared future does not fit easily within the flow of life that we normally think of. We like to think of political efforts like sporting events, with a beginning, middle and end. It's so much more than that.
11:10 A.M. The 42nd president of the United States, Bill Clinton, is bestowed highest award of civil distinction in Israel from President Peres.
11:06 A.M. Peres on Clinton: You are achieving just as much out of office as you did in it. It is tempting me into early retirement.
11:01 A.M. Peres on Clinton: You really are the most loved leader and friend of all human beings and the Jewish state.
10: 54 A.M. President Shimon Peres presenting former U.S. President Bill Clinton with Israel's highest civil distinction, the President's Award.
10:48 A.M. Peres: Democracy is not just the right to be equal, but the equal right to be different. There is nothing wrong with being different.
10:43 A.M. Peres: Democracy is the equal right to be different. Look all around us in the Middle East - not a single country is cohesive. On Obama's leadership: Obama didn't change America, America changed and elected Obama.
10:41 A.M. Emanuel: Too much focus on the process of peace, not enough on the benefits of peace.
10:35 A.M. Blair: A country must defend itself. Israel's security is our security in the whole of the Western world.
10:31 A.M. Peres: Leaders are servants, not rulers. They must enhance the capacity of the people to express their deep worries.
10:26 A.M. Peres: People want to be heard and respected, the squares today are stronger than parliaments.
10:23 A.M. President Shimon Peres: I think it’s clearly a different world and we need different leadership. I wouldn’t recommend anybody to follow leaders of the past.
10:11 A.M. Emanuel: A leader must convey three qualities to public: strength, confidence, and optimisim.
10:10 A.M. Emanuel: The real question for leadership is what do you learn from failure. Change is only constant. Can you make change a friend, not a foe, for the public?
10:08 A.M Rahm Emanuel addressing Peres: It is rare to meet someone who lived a life worth living
10:01 A.M. Blair: The great political divide of our time is less between left and right, more between the open minded and the close minded have this remarkable country of Israel. Shimon Peres is stil thinking about tomorrow. He has the spirit of a 30 year old.
9:59 A.M. Blair: Some say two state solution is a fantasy. I say fantasy is thinking one state solution would be sustainable. We need leadership for peace, for the history book between Israelis and Palestinians.
9:58 A.M. Blair: Progresss cannot come without stablility. That's why Iran's nuclear ambitions are a threat and we must overcome that threat
9:55 A.M Blair: Democracy is not just about voting, it's also about majority protecting the minority.
9:53 A.M Blair on Syria: "As every day that passes shows, the cost of staying out may be paying a higher price later."
9:52 A.M.: Blair: The skill set that takes you to leadership is not necessarily the skill set that best serves you as a leader.
9:48 A.M. Blair, envoy of the Quartet to the Middle East, and Emanuel, Chicago mayor, take the stage to rousing applause.
9:41 A.M.: Presidential Conference chairman Aaron Frenkel calls Peres "one of the greatest statesmen of all time."
About the President's Award:
The President's Award is an expression of gratitude, akin to the French Legion of Honor or the American Medal of Freedom, bestowed upon certain individuals and organizations for their contribution to the State of Israel or humanity. Clinton was selected for the award to honor his humanitarian work and that of the William J. Clinton Foundation, which he founded.
Past recipients include U.S. President Barack Obama, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Maestro Zubin Mehta, Rabbi Adin Even Yisrael-Steinsaltz and the Rashi Foundation.
Celebs arrive in Israel to celebrate President Peres' birthday
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