Summary of the Herzliya Conference's Unique Roundtable Event

Following the opening address by MK Lt. Gen. (res.) Moshe (Bogie) Ya'alon, Minister of Defense on the third and final day of the 14th annual Herzliya Conference, Iranian experts sat down to discuss and simulate the regional and global implications that the world could be facing the day following an agreement with Iran over its nuclear program.

The simulation game was divided into two parts, first with participants answering questions related to Iranian military activity in Syria, namely the movement of missiles there; while the second dealt with the potential of Iran inciting a situation in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia designed to add to its regional power and take control of oil reserves in those areas.

Representative countries in the simulation game included Israel, the United States, China, Saudi Arabia and the GCC, Russia and Iran. A control group assisted in tying the various elements under discussion together.

The overwhelming idea pervading the session was the need for proper measurement channels to ensure that Iran is kept in check in the event of an agreement regarding its nuclear program. As noted by Dr. Shaul Shay, Director of Studies, Institute for Policy and Strategy (IPS), IDC Herzliya, "what are the red lines regarding Iranian activities in Syria?" What is unacceptable for Israel or the United States?" In short, "it really matters what the agreement says", said Dr. Anthony H. Cordesman, Arleigh A. Burke Chair in Strategy, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), who sat in the control group.

The Honorable James B. Steinberg, Former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State and Dr. Gary Samore, Former White House Coordinator for Arms Control and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), representatives from the United States, explained that the nuclear problem has been a problem in its own right, but it is symptomatic of a bigger problem and that it should be made clear that a deal regarding the nuclear program "is not a shield" against the U.S. or other powers taking the necessary steps if Iran chooses to take other undesirable steps – even if they do not defy the principles of the nuclear agreement. "Just because the nuclear file is on track does not mean we are indifferent to Iran trying to dominate the region." The United States would need to make it absolutely clear that Iran is to be held accountable for all hostile threats that it

communicates, even in other countries. "Iran has not been given a hand to act badly in other respects, even if it lives up to terms of the agreement."

According to the Saudi point of view, imparted by Dr. Jon B. Alterman, Zbigniew Brzezinski Chair in Global Security and Geostrategy and Director of the Middle East Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), in the event of Iran attempting to militarize Syria, the Saudis do not view the problem with Iran as a nuclear issue anyway. "If someone has a gun to your head, what does it matter if they put a cannon to your back?" Regarding possible instigation in Bahrain, Alterman said that Bahrain is perceived to be a domestic issue by Saudi Arabia and that in the event of any provocation; they would be to activate the US and all its antennae.

Prof. Wang Suolao, Director, Center for Middle East Studies, School of International Studies, Peking University, expressed his view that China would welcome a comprehensive deal between Iran and the P5+1.

From the Russian perspective, Prof. Sergey A. Karaganov, Honorary Chairman, Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy of Russia Honorary Chairman, Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy of Russia, noted that potential assertive or aggressive Iranian behavior in the Lavant would be dealt with from the understanding that the actions of the Iranians are not being directed at Russia. "A nuclear Iran is not that big a danger for Russia ... but it is a danger for regional peace." It was added that much of Russia's response would be dependent on its relationship with the US at the time. Dr. Jennifer Shkabatur added that Russia would probably also welcome the attempt of a world power to help and solve the conflict in Syria and as such, would probably join the efforts.

Karaganov also hinted at the need for a new peace process in and for the Middle East as "the security void there is deepening." He said that the problem wasn't the Iranians but rather that "the Middle Eastern area is in a shambles." He added that NATO was a problem-creating institution and that "it would be better for us if NATO shrinks back to its original purpose." He agreed that a multi-national institution in the European sense of the word could not be created in the Middle East but said that something in that sense was needed.

Meir Javedanfar, IDC Herzliya, representing Iran, said that he felt that it would be very provocative for Iran to send missiles to Syria as it would pit the Saudis against Iran and generally create a lot of tension within Iranian politics. In addition, with the number of missiles in Syria which are reported to have been attacked and destroyed by foreign countries, sending missiles to Syria would be risking them being attacked.

Prof. Alireza Nader, Senior International Policy Analyst, RAND Corporation, also on behalf of Iran, added that such action would leave Iran's foreign policy "dead in the water." Javedanfar added, "It's a very sensitive time for Iran to take such a step." Similarly, on the topic of a hypothetical instigation in Bahrain, Nader said that foreign investment was a goal of the current Iranian government and that instigation was in complete opposition to those goals.

Speaking for the European Union and NATO, Rafael L. Bardaji, Former Spanish National Security Advisor to Prime Minister Aznar, noted that Europe's first concern was its own safety and any possibility of Israeli action against Iran, even against Iranian interests in Syria, would negatively impact on Europe. Discussing how to keep Iran from becoming emboldened, he stated that Europe had always been led by the United States from the "front seat" and "we don't know how to be led from behind."

Amb. Zalman Shoval, Former Ambassador of Israel to the US said that after any Iranian nuclear agreement, Israel's role would be as the "watch dog of the watch dog," explaining that what looks less dangerous to those in America, looks far more dangerous to us in Israel.

The Herzliya Conference is the flagship of the Institute of Policy and Strategy (IPS) at the Lauder School of Government of IDC Herzliya. The Herzliya Conference addresses Israel's national agenda by encouraging public debate and influencing the country's public policy planning. This is achieved through convening Israeli and international elite policy makers, conducting cutting edge research, fostering a global network of contacts in a public forum by attracting the best and the brightest to take part in the conference and its discussions.

 

 

 

 

The Knesset elected Reuven Rivlin as the State of Israel's 10th president on Tuesday. The Likud-Yisrael Beitenu MK received 63 of 116 valid votes in a runoff election against MK Meir Sheetrit (Hatenua), who won 53 votes.

Rivlin and Sheetrit went to a second round runoff after none of the candidates succeeded in obtaining a majority 61 votes in the first round of voting at the plenum.

Of the 119 ballots cast in the first round (MK Meir Porush was overseas), Rivlin received the most votes, 44, followed by Sheetrit with 31. Former Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik received 28 votes, followed by former Supreme Court Justice Dalia Dorner, 13, and Nobel laureate Dan Shechtman, who received only one vote. Two votes were disqualified.

Rivlin, who will serve a single, seven-year term, will be ceremoniously sworn in as first citizen of Israel on July 24, 2014, replacing outgoing President Shimon Peres.

Rivlin, who served two terms as speaker of the Knesset, was born in Jerusalem in 1939. He is married and has four children. A lawyer by training, Rivlin served as director and chairman of the Beitar Jerusalem Sports Association, as a member of the Jerusalem city council for a decade and as chairman of the Institute for Occupational Safety and Hygiene. He also served as Minister of Communications in the Sharon government at the start of the previous decade.

For Reuven Rivlin's personal Knesset webpage: http://goo.gl/2m5ZEH

https://www.knesset.gov.il/mk/eng/mk_eng.asp?mk_individual_id_t=114

http://mfa.gov.il/MFA/MFA-Archive/2003/Pages/Reuven%20Rivlin.aspx

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Middle East's leading security & policy gathering runs through June 10th at the IDC Herzliya Campus

 

“Why is Iran seeking nuclear capabilities?” questioned Dr. Anthony H. Cordesman, from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) during his address during the panel on Iran’s Domestic Power Struggle and the Regional Balance of Power: Implications for the Iran-P5+1 Negotiations on the second day of the 14th annual Herzliya Conference.

 

Cordesman explained that more than being a country with nuclear ambitions, Iran is a country that sees itself under siege with very little really modern military equipment, serious performance limitations in the area of its aircrafts, and a major surface navy that has not improved much since 1987 and 1988. It sees the US expanding and improving its capabilities, a heavily armed Israel and a buildup of military strength in the Gulf, while also being caught up in a struggle between the Sunnis and Shiites.

 

“This is a country that is a very real threat… its asymmetric capabilities are very real and it is building up its missile capabilities…” but he said that when looking at the balance of power, one could see why they are building up their capabilities.

 

Meir Javedanfar, an Iranian-Israeli author, commentator and lecturer at IDC Herzliya explained that 2014 was an important year of decisions for Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei and told his audience that he believed the chance of success for the current nuclear talks was currently 60:40, contrary to US President Barack Obama’s 50:50 prediction.

 

He explained that his optimism came from Khamenei having made three mistakes. Firstly, he got the 2009 elections wrong, turned against the instigators of the revolution and lost legitimacy among his people. Secondly, he has turned down Obama’s overtures and proven that Iran’s leadership is more scared of peace than war. Lastly, he thought that Iran could make it through the debilitating sanctions and that people would continue to rally behind the flag. Instead, the latter has not occurred and $200 billion is missing from the $650 billion earned during former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s reign. “It’s a critical stage for the Iranian economy.”

Prof. Alireza Nader, Senior International Policy Analyst, RAND Corporation, expounded on his views as to positive changes with regard to Iran’s current attitude toward negotiations.

 

He explained that current Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had been allowed to run for election by the regime in order to fix the disaster that followed the 2009 elections and the leadership of Ahmadinejad, “who was a disaster for the Islamic republic as a whole.”

 

The current consensus within the establishment, Nader said, was that Iran was facing a bigger internal and external crisis than in many years. He said that Rouhani is seen as a fixer and good manager and was seen by the people of Iran as the least disastrous of the eight candidates on offer.

 

Dr. Gary Samore, Former White House Coordinator for Arms Control and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) said that “he was deeply skeptical that any nuclear deal acceptable to Iran will exist.” He said that he believed that Iran would have acquired these capabilities years ago had it not been for US efforts.

 

He said that people close to the Iranian leadership have noted that owing to Iran being surrounded by nuclear armed powers that were potential threats, Iran needed some kind of “virtual nuclear weapons capacity”. But, he said, whatever the nature of deterrence that they would demand – real or virtual – there was no indication that Iran would be willing to concede to any of the conditions being put forward by the P5+1.

 

For more information including VOD of all proceedings please log onto: www.herzliyaconference.org/eng

 

Follow the Herzliya Conference on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HerzliyaConference

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The Herzliya Conference is the flagship of the Institute of Policy and Strategy (IPS) at the Lauder School of Government of IDC Herzliya. The Herzliya Conference addresses Israel’s national agenda by encouraging public debate and influencing the country’s public policy planning. This is achieved through convening Israeli and international elite policy makers, conducting cutting edge research, fostering a global network of contacts in a public forum by attracting the best and the brightest to take part in the conference and its discussions.   

 

 

 

 

Head of Israel's Top Political Parties outlined their visions for the Mideast peace process at the annual Herzliya Conference which runs through June 10th at the IDC Herzliya Campus

The leaders of Israel's top political parties outlined their visions for the peace process and regional security in keynote addresses at the Herzliya Conference tonight.

MK Naftali Bennett, Minister of the Economy, Minister of Religious Services, Minister for Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs; Head, Habayit Hayehudi Party claimed that the era of the Oslo Accords is over and called on the government to implement a sovereignty plan starting with the Gush Etzion block.

"With the establishment of the Palestinian unity government - the era of Oslo has ended. Now the time has come to admit that it simply didn't work. We need to think in a different way to create a better reality, and I hereby outline The Sovereignty Plan. The State of Israel would have gradual sovereignty over half of Judea and Samaria where there is a tremendous majority of Jews, while creating an upgraded situation with freedom and mobility for Arabs without roadblocks between villages. The first implementation of this plan would take place across the Gush Etzion block".
"Over time, in areas A and B there would be an upgraded autonomy. Israel would also upgrade the infrastructure in those areas and the Arab civilians would enjoy a better life with free mobility".
"Together we will develop a startup region so for burgeoning, prosperous growth, including improvements in import-export situation. However the prerequisite for this is peace in the field, calm in the field itself".
"21 years we gave the left every opportunity, now it's our turn".

MK Yair Lapid, Minister of Finance; Chairman, Yesh Atid Party spoke about the risk of ending negotiations and claimed that Israel cannot and does not want to rule over four million Palestinians.

"The risks of ending the negotiations include terrorism, international isolation and our own economic challenges. We must stop asking what do the Palestinians want and begin asking 'what do the Israeli people want'. The answer is security and to be separate.
"Israel has to decide what its borders are. We must come with detailed maps express a national consensus through a three-phase solution:
Preparation phase including withdrawal from those areas that do not protect Israel's security. During this time there is no additional construction of settlements
A trust building phase during which Israel will withdraw from isolated settlements while establishing security in the settlement blocs.
Adjustments, including land swaps and permanent talks.
"Ever since we joined the government we have struggled against the isolated settlements. The damage is great in the international arena and there is a financial price that we feel in our pockets. We have lost billions in economic activity that could go towards reducing taxes, improving healthcare and education, reinforcing the IDF, etc. We need a concrete, predictive map that will determine where construction can increase and where it should cease. Israel should initiate rather than react and in order to do that we must draw our own borders = first on paper, and then on the ground".

MK Tzipi Livni, Minister of Justice; Chairperson, Hatenouah Party promoted a two-state solution as a way to present the values of a Jewish, democratic state.
"The most important decision we need to make stems from the question: what do we want from ourselves? A Jewish democratic state living in harmony with our neighbors or a binational state with ongoing bloodshed. This is a decision that must be made now".
"I am sick of being politically correct, and I want to say some truths. The settlements are a financial burden. They were designed to prevent us from reaching an agreement ever and they are taking up huge budgets at the expense of health, welfare, education and more, and I blame the leadership of the settlement movement".
"Hamas has not changed and we must continue with their de-legitimization in the world, but we must continue negotiations with Abu Mazen's government in order to promote our own interests".
"Hatenua and Yesh Atid believe in two states. Our cooperation is more important than ever".

MK Isaac Herzog, Chairman of the Opposition; Chairman, Labor Party called on MK Yair Lapid to leave the government and join him and others in stopping the funding to the settlements. Herzog called for "a cohesive leadership that can bring together all the different hues of Israeli society".

MK Gideon Saar, Minister of the Interior; Likud Party questioned if alternatives to the status quo are practical, and if they are better than the current state of affairs. Saar claimed that over the past two decades Israel has taken dramatic steps to change the status quo including the Oslo Accords and the unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip – and that bottom line, these steps did not improve Israel's security situation or bring Israel any nearer to peace.

For more information including VOD of all proceedings please log onto:
www.herzliyaconference.org/eng

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Middle East's leading security & policy gathering runs through June 10th at the IDC Herzliya Campus

The war in Syria is pushing out secular Syrians in favor of Islamic fighters and Global Jihadists, according to Brig. General Itai Brun, head of the research division of IDF intelligence.

"About 80 percent of the rebels have an Islamic agenda," Brun said Monday at the Herzliya Conference.

The turmoil in Syria is part of the changing landscape of Israel's security, he said. There are positive elements - the threat from Syria has dropped significantly and "most of its chemical weapons have either been removed or destroyed." The camp of moderate Arabs has also been strengthened.

But there are also negative developments. Hezbollah now holds an enormous number of rockets and has the ability to strike any part of Israel. "It has 170,000 rockets," he said. "This is a huge amount and it's an established fact, not an estimate."

The goal of Hezbollah – and those arming it – is to neutralize Israel's naval and air superiority. They also hope to use the rockets as a deterrent by aiming them at Israel's home front, he said.

If major fighting broke out, they would look "for a massive attack to cause us considerable pain and damage and make us not want to continue fighting," Brun said.

Israel's deterrent, however, remains strong. "None of Israel's enemies are interested in a long war. The exception could be World Jihad, with whom deterrence works differently," he said.

"The Middle East is still in a transitional period," he said, "An old period has collapsed and a new one that has not yet formed. The hostility towards Israel is the one common denominator among those who want to bring about a new order and even those who want to restore the old order. "

For more information including VOD of all proceedings please log onto: www.herzliyaconference.org/eng

To access a free database of high resolution still pictures from the conference (mandatory credit) please log onto : www.herzliyaconference.com

Follow the Herzliya Conference on social media:

 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HerzliyaConference

 

 

Twitter: http://twitter.com/HerzliyaConf - #HC14

 

 

 

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/HerzliyaConference

 

 

The Herzliya Conference is the flagship of the Institute of Policy and Strategy (IPS) at the Lauder School of Government of IDC Herzliya. The Herzliya Conference addresses Israel's national agenda by encouraging public debate and influencing the country's public policy planning. This is achieved through convening Israeli and international elite policy makers, conducting cutting edge research, fostering a global network of contacts in a public forum by attracting the best and the brightest to take part in the conference and its discussions.