U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, Knesset Minister Tzachi Hanegbi Address INSS Conference Tuesday, January 19, 2010
U.S. and Israeli statesmen stress commitment to U.N. ideals and a road to peace
Ambassador Susan Rice
Diplomats, dignitaries and more than 150 American Friends of Tel Aviv University turned out for a private, off-the-record analysis of "Strategic Choices for the U.S. and Israel," this year's Institute for National Security Studies conference held at New York's Harmonie Club on January 12.
An overflow crowd came to hear keynote speakers Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and MK Tzachi Hanegbi, Chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, to discuss and debate current challenges facing the Middle East.
MK Tzachi Hanegbi
During a panel discussion following the keynote addresses, former Ambassadors Itamar Rabinovich, Martin Indyk, Dan Gillerman and Oded Eran turned their attention to a review of the peace process in the light of diplomatic efforts by the Obama administration and the continuing threat of nuclear proliferation in the region.
"We must rise to history's call," U.S. ambassador tells audience
Ambassador Rice offered a series of what she described as "reflections on the type of world the Obama administration seeks," including a new emphasis on the possibilities for reform of the United Nations and a principled and pragmatic U.S. foreign policy. "No one should be left behind to drown in conflict or despair," she said, then offered a broad outline of the Obama administration's commitment to peace and security in the Middle East as the administration sought "a just and lasting peace between Israel, Palestinians and the Arab World." She cautioned that all of the region's stakeholders needed to recognize the role of compromise in establishing a long-term peace, warning that a lack of compromise would lead to unending conflict in the region. "We can and must," she concluded, "rise to history's call."
Minister Tzachi Hanegbi reviewed the experiences of both Israel and the U.S. as prime targets of Islamic terrorism in the years following 2001, describing it as "a history of a society in terror." In his view, however, U.S. and Israeli efforts to stem the tide of fundamentalist terrorism are succeeding, and civic life in both societies and that of the Palestinians have been improving. Applauding Obama's idea of a "just war" in Afghanistan, Hanegbi also noted that the 31-year-success so far of the Egypt/Israel peace treaty provides hope for a lasting peace in the Middle East, but warned of the profound threat that a nuclear Iran would pose to the region as a whole.
An insider's perspective on global events
Ambassador Rabinovich (former Ambassador of Israel to the U.S.), Ambassador Indyk (former Ambassador of the U.S. to Israel), Ambassador Gillerman (former Permanent Representative of Israel to the U.N.) and Ambassador Eran (former Ambassador of Israel to the European Union and to Jordan) brought their collective decades of real-world expertise and diplomacy in the region to a panel discussion that considered the issues raised by the keynote speakers. In the broad, incisive exchanges that drew upon their years of behind-the-scenes experience, they addressed institution-building in the Palestinian community, the issues of borders and refugees, the Obama administration's work on Palestinian issues, and the elements necessary for a settlement that would lead to a lasting peace in the region. A brief question-and-answer session followed.
The event took place at New York's elegant Harmonie Club in midtown Manhattan. Prior to the program, guests had the opportunity to meet and talk with the speakers at a cocktail reception.