Senator George Mitchell Discusses Israel's Security Challenges at INSS Conference Monday, January 26, 2009
Noted American and Israeli politicians examine the future of Israeli security
Congressman Howard Berman, Sen. George Mitchell, INSS Director Dr. Oded Eran, and INSS Chairman Mr. Frank Lowy
Israeli Minister of Defense Ehud Barak
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni
Former U.S. Senator George Mitchell, recently named special envoy to the Middle East by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, lauded the strong relationship between the U.S. and Israel at the second annual international conference of the Institute for National Security Studies, one of the world's leading think tanks and an external institute of Tel Aviv University. Speaking on the TAU campus on December 17-18, 2008, Mitchell called the bond between the leaders of the two nations "essential."
Major speakers at the conference also included Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, as well as former TAU President Ambassador Itamar Rabinovich.
On a hopeful note, Senator Mitchell made an analogy between the ideological conflict that once faced Northern Ireland and the Israeli-Palestinian situation. “There is no such thing as a conflict that can’t be ended,” said Senator Mitchell.
Rays of Light in a Dark Time
Continuing the positive theme, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni focused on the idea of establishing common interests to help Israel achieve peace in the region with the help of foreign powers. “When we identify common interests, the whole world is with us,” she asserted, re-emphasizing Israel’s desire to establish peaceful relationships with its neighbors.
The featured speakers examined the current security situation of the State of Israel within the framework of the rapidly changing global political landscape.
The discussion included a wide range of American and Israeli security experts and political figures who analyzed the changing face of Israel’s national security in the evolving political world, including how U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration will impact the Middle East.
Relationship with U.S. "Israel's Most Strategic Asset"
Prime Minister Olmert also spoke about the type of policy the new American government will apply to the Middle East, and how that will affect the region. He called Israel’s relationship with the United States its “most important strategic asset.”
The emergence of that relationship, and the development of American-Israeli relations, was described by Ambassador Rabinovich. His brief overview of historical Israeli-American relations since the State of Israel was established in 1948 provided a context for the comments made by other speakers.
Experts also addressed strategic alliances, ideological differences, and Iranian nuclearization.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
Prof. Stanley Fischer, Governor of the Bank of Israel, and Dr. Oded Eran, INSS Director