Clinton joins Peres for birthday bash
A PARADE of global figures from former US president Bill Clinton and ex-Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev to US actress Kathleen Turner arrived in the Israeli capital Tel Aviv last night to help mark the 80th birthday of Shimon Peres - Nobel laureate, visionary of peace and oft-failed candidate for Israeli prime minister.
The extraordinary guest list reflected global appreciation for Peres's efforts towards building a 'New Middle East'.
That was the title of his 1995 book, and also a sentiment reflecting his longing for the relative calm prevalent before the Israeli-Palestinian peace process collapsed in violence which has seen thousands die in the last three years.
Peres, whose birthday was in fact last month, says he only went along with the party - organised by both supporters and the rightist Likud government - to bring some cheer to the region.
"I feel strange," Peres said last night. "But it happens once in 80 years, so you can survive."