Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Lebanese President Michel Suleiman were seen leaving the hall when Peres took the stand.
"History was written in blood. Most wars were waged over territory. Today, science, creativity and knowledge replaced land as the source of wealth. Land can be conquered. Not science," Peres told the crowd.
"Science is global, borderless. Armies can't conquer it. Yet, still, Lawless terrorists spread violence caused by ideological differences, social gaps and sheer fanaticism. The new millennium must liberate the world from bloodshed, from discrimination, from hunger, from ignorance, from maladies."
The president spoke of the way in which Israel has developed. "I speak on behalf of a small people, and a tiny land. We knew rebirth despite the murder of one third of our people – the Shoah. We were alone. Our land was attacked seven times in 62 years – again, we were alone," he said.
"In spite of wars, we made peace with Egypt and Jordan. The territorial dispute with Lebanon has ended and acknowledged so by the UN. We left Gaza on our own initiative – completely. We are now negotiating with the Palestinians in order to realize the two-state-solution: A Jewish state – Israel, and an Arab state – Palestine. There is no other peaceful alternative, and I believe that we shall succeed."
Peres also announced Israel's intention to make peace with Syria. "We are ready to enter in direct negotiations with Syria right away," he said.
"We are committed to the Millennium development goals. We share the burden of saving the world from war and hunger. Without peace, poverty will remain. Without food – peace will not prevail. Statesmen have to mobilize political power to achieve peace."
On Tuesday the Iranian president is scheduled to speak before the assembly. Of Ahmadinejad, Peres said, "The other day, the formal leader of Iran called to annihilate Israel and wipe it off the map of the Middle East. I believe that the Middle East has room for every person, every nation, and every religion.
"We believe that every person was created in the image of the lord – and there's just one lord who calls not to hate, not to threaten, not to seek superiority, and not to kill. Israel will continue to exist and aspire to peace with its neighbors. There is enough room for friendship in the Middle East."
In conclusion, Peres brought up two "burning challenges" for the assembly. "First, to harness science and technology to increase food production, and second, to stand together against terror. A hungry world will never be peaceful. A terrorized world will never be governable. We should unite around a common hope," he said.
The General Assembly has listed among its goals the diminishing of poverty by at least 50%, child mortality rates by two-thirds, and the promotion of causes such as education and empowerment of women.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said before the assembly, at which 140 world leaders gathered, that more money and political clout would be required to achieve the listed goals.
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