Former Mossad Chief and Ambassadors Ask: What Is Israel's Role in Changing Mideast?

Meir Dagan to headline major panel at fifth Israeli presidential conference hosted by Shimon Peres.

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Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan headlined a major panel Wednesday focusing on the role of Israel in a changing Middle East, at the fifth presidential conference in Jerusalem.

The panel, scheduled for the second day of President Shimon Peres' Facing Tomorrow conference, considers steps Israel should take amid the upheaval of the Arab Spring and the violent civil war in Syria.

Other speakers on the panel include former ambassadors Israeli and American ambassadors including Dore Gold, Daniel Kurtzer and Itamar Rabinovich, and Sima Shine, the head of the Strategic Division at Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs.


13:22 P.M. Dagan: IDF can protect Israel from any border . If the political need will be as such that the Jordan valley will not be in Israeli hands. Using security for political reason is a mistake.

13:10 P.M.: Dagan: Should we wait for Hamas to take over the West Bank? The sooner we enter dialogue the better for Israel.

13:06 P.M. Dagan: The peace process with the Palestinians is a necessity for Israel. Abu Mazen has opposition in his own community, without creating backing for him in the Arab world he can't sign.

13:01 P.M. Kurtzer: Let's say you agree that this is not the time for final status, why would you dig yourself into a deeper hole with settlements every single day? The Arab world is now ready to deal with the state of Israel with certain parameters.

12:59 P.M. Itamar Rabinovich: It is damaging to say two-state solution is dead.

12:58 P.M. Dore Gold: The time is not right for a full final status agreement. We are facing too common threats, the Iranian threat, if we are smart we can build a coalition with Sunni forces.

12:50: On Iran, Dagan says: There is a dialogue, even with [Supreme leader Ayatollah] Khamenei. The leader cannot rule out and disregard population.

He adds: The Syrian issue is critical for Iran – Hezbollah is important tool for them to get political impact in the region.

12:40: Meir Dagan says the political processes in the region are continuing, adding that is very hard to define outcome. Different alliances have formed, he says, and radical elements have disappeared completely

."I believe the situation is not becoming worse. We should not sit and wait but take initiative and create opportunities," says Dagan. "Israel's interest, the Gulf countries and even the Palestinians and Egypt, lies together. What we are seeing in last decade is an open conflict between Shi'ite and Sunni that is tearing up Arab and Muslim world."

"This is creating unique opportunities for Israel to seek different alliances and reassure our presence in Middle East," he says. "I don't like every aspect of Arab Peace Initiative – but as starting point to sit down and discuss – I believe it is a vital necessity for Israel to do it."

12:34 A.M. Daniel Kurtzer: There are two examples of peace treaties with Arab neighbors that have provided Israel with degree of security you did not have before. You ended up with peace partners. May be to Israel's advantage to take initative to achieve recognized borders.

The three-day presidential conference comprises a plethora of plenary sessions, panel discussions, roundtables and master classes, featuring prominent societal leaders behind a wide spectrum of initiatives. The conference coincides with Peres' 90th birthday celebrations.

Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan.Credit: Alon Ron
Peres and Bill Clinton.
Bill Clinton gestures during his speech.
Sharon Stone at Peres' birthday bash.
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Peres and Bill Clinton.Credit: Moshe Milner / GPO
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Bill Clinton gestures during his speech.Credit: Reuters
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Sharon Stone at Peres' birthday bash.Credit: Omer Meiron
Celebs arrive in Israel to celebrate President Peres' birthday

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