Watch: Israel and the Middle East: Seeking Common Ground May 26, 2014 / Brussels, Belgium
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On May 26, GMF hosted the first public panel discussion between a former Saudi head of intelligence, HRH Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud, and a former Israeli head of military intelligence, General Amos Yadlin. The debate, which was moderated by David Ignatius, columnist and associate editor at The Washington Post, focused on the position of the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Middle East context and the current security situation in the region.
During a very engaging debate, the various efforts for the resolution of the Arab-Israeli dispute were assessed. Despite U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to reach a peace agreement, HRH Prince Turki bin Faisal underlined that King Faisal’s proposal in 2002 remains the most viable solution to guarantee the normalization of the relations between the Israelis and the Palestinians. However, General Yadlin rejected this idea on the basis that the compromises that would need to be made are too difficult to reach and that the ‘’take it or leave it’’ impression of the Saudi offer made it impossible to negotiate. He suggested the shift of the paradigm from an all-inclusive agreement to a step-by-step approach toward transitional change. The key in finding a solution is the support of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and HRH Prince Turki bin Faisal underscored that it is the responsibility of the Israeli leadership to explain the content of the proposal to its people.
On Iran, General Yadlin expressed his hope that the Iranians will reach a deal, but also conveyed his fear that sooner or later, this deal will be violated. While the creation of a weapons-of-mass-destruction free zone in Middle East is essential, there was disagreement between the speakers on whether this should precede or follow the mutual recognition of the countries of the region.
Regarding Syria, both speakers agreed on the emergency of the situation, but General Yadlin doubted that assisting the opposition is the best solution and suggested the neutralization of Bashar al-Assad’s source of power pointing to the role of Russia and China play in the conflict. HRH Prince Turki bin Faisal called the international community to sustain the viability of the Syrian state after the hostilities are over and warned that the Afghanistan mistake should not be repeated.
The remarks were followed by a Q&A session that touched upon concrete security issues varying from the recent shooting of four people in the Jewish Museum in Brussels to the role of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and neighboring countries.
Read On Mideast, a hopeful dialogue by David Ignatius, columnist, Washington Post; and GMF board member.