Peres with Druze representatives
'Suleiman's visit very important'
Photo: Flash 90
President Shimon Peres visited Daliyat el-Carmel on Thursday ahead of the Druze holiday of Nabi Shu'ayb, and heard complaints of discrimination from the community's leaders.
Peres said he was surprised to learn that many of the community's members are unaware of how much they are respected by the Israeli public and establishment.
The president said the only way to solve the problem was through improving their socioeconomic situation by opening high-tech factories in Druze communities, while also boosting tourism.
"This will allow a larger income from the municipal tax payments of factories, that will also allow for the employment of women.
"The Druze have everything it takes to succeed in high-tech, and many of the community's members already work in various high-tech factories throughout the country," Peres said.
Druze authority heads, reserves officers and dignitaries also told Peres of the feeling of discrimination felt in the community with regards to the issue of land confiscation.
One of the speakers pointed out that nearly 80% of the land that once belonged to the Druze sector has been confiscated over the years.
The president also laid flowers on the Yad Labanim memorial for the fallen IDF soldiers ahead of next week's memorial day.
The Yad Labanim center's Chairman, former MK Amal Nasereldeen said that over the years, the Druze community has lost 359 of its sons in Israel's wars. The most recent was Lutfi Nasereldeen, the former MK's grandson, who was killed during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.
The president also commented on Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman's visit to Israel, calling it "very important".
Peres said, "This symbolizes a certain turning point for the better in our policies and ties with Egypt. In Egypt they also understand that we share the dangers hovering over the Middle East, and joint forces are needed to ward them off.
"I think we will find common grounds, while each party also maintains its own interests." Peres also confirmed that he might leave for a visit to Egypt in the near future.