Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference

November 22, 2018 by Michael Kuttner
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Diplomats from a wide variety of countries as well as media journalists and representatives of a myriad of advocacy groups have attended the 7th Diplomatic Conference hosted by the Jerusalem Post took place on Wednesday 21 November at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Jerusalem.

Nickolay Mledenov, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process addressing the JP Diplomatic Conference.

Presentations were made by various sponsors such as Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Discount Bank and JNF – KKL Israel.

An interesting line up of speakers provided a wide-ranging perspective on current events and a tantalizing prognosis on challenges facing Israel.

Dr Yuval Steinitz, the Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy & Water Resources, outlined the dazzling prospects for the export of natural gas to Egypt and Jordan as well as ambitious plans for the building of a pipeline to Europe.

The Minister of Public Security & Strategic Affairs, Gilad Erdan, slammed BDS and the capitulation of Air BNB. He promised a vigorous campaign against this and also asserted that Gaza will have to be dealt with in the not too distant future.

The Minister of Construction & Housing, Major General (ret) Yoav Galant, reiterated the tough decisions that will need to be made against Hamas and hinted clearly that its leaders’ time is “limited.” He also stated that there has been Palestinian Arab rejection of peace since 1937.

The Minister of Justice, Ayelet Shaked, outlined her campaign to appoint more conservative judges and on being asked of her views of President Trump’s impending “deal of the century” she candidly replied that it was “a waste of time.”

The Minister of Transport & Intelligence, Israel Katz, outlined an ambitious project for the building of a railway line from Israel to the Gulf States via Jordan and Saudi Arabia which would revolutionize trade and relationships. He reported on his recent visit to Oman and the exciting developments taking place between Israel and moderate Arab countries. As with previous coalition speakers, he warned that “a hard strike against Hamas was close at hand.”

In contrast, the Leader of the Labour Opposition, Tzipi Livni, complained that the Government had denigrated Mahmoud Abbas and the PA who she asserted were wonderful partners for peace.

The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, attempted to convince the audience that defeating Hamas by force was a mistake and that only by dialogue and throwing more money at them could peace, harmony and brotherhood be achieved. He also advised Israel not to use live ammunition against those youths hurling rocks and other projectiles because Israel was supposed to be a country based on laws and accountability.

An interesting panel discussion took place between a representative of the Ministry for Strategic Affairs, the CEO of a company in the Barkan Industrial Park in Samaria which employs Palestinian Arabs and Jews, the Mayor of Efrat and a Palestinian Arab businessman.

All agreed that BDS caused more harm to Palestinian Arabs than Israel and expressed the view that economic co-operation created more chances for peace than boycotts and delegitimization. Hearing strong expressions of support for this sort of partnership in Judea and Samaria by a Palestinian Arab businessman made a positive impression on listeners.

A presentation was made by the Head of the IDF Strategic Division of the threats posed by rockets and missiles now in the hands of Hamas and Hezbollah as well as developments in Iran.

The Jerusalem Post’s columnist, Caroline Glick, condemned the policies of the EU in general and Emanuel Macron of France in particular and pointed out that until Europe came to grips with its shameful past treatment of Jews and tackled the current wave of anti Jewish hate it was in no position to offer gratuitous advice and admonitions to Israel.

A short interview was conducted with Avigdor Liberman the former Defense Minister who reiterated his view that appeasing Hamas was counterproductive and was the reason he resigned.

The final speech was given by Gideon Sa’ar a former Likud Minister who announced he would be returning to political life in 2019. Well-informed sources say that he is poised to make a bid for the leadership when the time is right.

The wide range of views expressed provided a fascinating and stimulating experience for participants and much food for thought about developments in the near future.

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