Tel Aviv conference hosts Israeli politicians and top security experts

Security experts and commentators discussed Israel’s security challenges and relations with the Palestinians at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) annual conference yesterday.

At a panel discussing Israel’s relations with its Arab neighbours, Thomas Friedman of the New York Times said that “Saudi Arabia cannot formally expose itself as an ally with Israel” because “it would be a gift to Iran”.

“Anyone who thinks the Saudis will make peace or up relations with Israel above the narrow issue of confronting Iran without peace with the Palestinians is living a fantasy,” he continued.

Speaking about the regional challenged posed by the endgame of the Syrian War, Chagai Tzuriel, Director-General of the Israeli Ministry of Intelligence said that “what happens in Syria will have a huge impact on the different scenarios that may play out in the Middle East”.

Orit Perlov, research fellow at INSS warned that “the average age of the population in the Middle East is 24. The average age of the leaders in the Middle East is 70. This is not sustainable. The young generation that started the Arab Spring still feels oppressed”.

Another session discussed the lessons to be learned from previous rounds of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, which concluded that a final status deal is not currently on the agenda. BICOM Senior Visiting Fellow Brig. Gen. Michael Herzog said that he doubted US President Donald Trump would be in a position to facilitate an “ultimate deal”.

In a keynote speech, Zionist Union leader Avi Gabbay said if he was elected Prime Minister he would halt settlement construction outside the existing settlement blocs and complete the security barrier.

Gabbay also said that “the greatest challenge of our generation is a nuclear Iran” and that “we must prevent Iran from attaining a nuclear bomb”.

In an interview yesterday with Al-Arabiya, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson confirmed that the UK still favours retaining the Iran nuclear deal, but stressed that “the crucial thing is to make sure that Iran obeys”.

Johnson continued: “Iran is up to all sorts of no good in the region… The number one issue on my agenda is that it is unacceptable for them to be conniving in the Houthis’ use of missiles against Saudi Arabia. It is a catastrophic policy they are following and we are very clear about that in the UK.”

Addressing the conference on Wednesday morning, Yeah Atid leader Yair Lapid said that Prime Minister Netanyahu could be questioned by Police soon about the purchase of German submarines. He said that if the Prime Minister knew that his advisors profited from the purchase then he should go to prison.

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