Geneva – Israeli President Shimon Peres expressed hope Monday that popular revolutions in the Middle East could improve relations between his country and its Arab neighbors, if they end up becoming more democratic and prosperous.
Changes in government would need to be accompanied by greater economic freedom and development, he said, as poverty and oppression in the region had fed resentment against Israel.
“We hope the better our neighbors will have it, we shall have better neighbors,” Peres told reporters in Geneva after a meeting with Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey.
Israel was watching protests in Syria particularly closely. “Clearly this changes the status quo in Syria,” he said, without elaborating.
A weeklong series of anti-government demonstrations has rocked Syria, considered one of Israel’s biggest enemies in the region.