HaaretzQ Live: Joint Arab List Leader Ayman Odeh: We Must Liberate Palestinians and Israelis From Occupation

Live coverage of the first ever HaaretzQ: with NIF conference in New York: Samantha Power: Continued settlement growth raises questions about Israel’s long-term objectives; top Obama adviser: Solving Israeli-Palestinian conflict won't defeat ISIS, but would help stem extremism; Saeb Erekat: Netanyahu destroying two-state solution, trying to build apartheid system; Rivlin praises Haaretz as 'beacon for freedom of expression.'

Samantha Power at HaaretzQ conference in New York. December 12, 2015.
Erica Gannett for IRL Productions

The HaaretzQ: NIF conference - a first of its kind conference in New York - is addressing the pressing questions facing Israel today, with innovative and engaging conversations led by Haaretz senior correspondents as well as a wide array of speakers from Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Europe and the United States.


12:55 A.M. Peter Beinart and Ari Shavit discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Israeli left

Peter Beinart and Ari Shavit acknowledge that Odeh is a "hard act to follow."

Shavit asks Beinart: Don't we, the Israeli left, have some self-criticism? Shouldn't we move beyond blaming Bibi and settlers? Beinart says that "liberal Zionists are unwilling to accept that Palestinians won't ever accept the legitimacy of the Zionist project."

Shavit responds that "Netanyahu isn't the sin - he is the punishment. The Israeli left hasn't brought a vision or leaders." He adds that "until we recognize that regular Israelis have legitimate fears, we lose the battle. WASPs (White Ashkenazi Supporters of Peace) are detached from reality."

Beinart tells Shavit that "people who support the two-state solution shouldn't paint it as utopia." "American-Jewish left is so angry over Palestinians that it doesn't participate in communal mourning and pain," Beinart adds.

"We are losing the hearts and minds of Israelis," Shavit says. "The Israeli left evaporated. We are playing into the right's hands." Shavit credits Beinart for identifying the "millenial problem" of losing young American Jews. 

Beinart says that in the last election, "I didn't see Isaac Herzog standing up for the principles of the left." Beinart adds that "we have a Jewishly illiterate generation. That's not Israel's fault, that's American Jews' fault."

12:33 A.M. Joint Arab List MK Ayman Odeh: We must liberate Palestinians and Israelis from occupation

Joint Arab List MK Ayman Odeh says that "as an Israeli citizen, I know that Israel cannot be a true and just democracy as it occupies another people."

"I know that peace and justice are interests of both people," Odeh says. "For so many, the occupation is all they've ever known."

"We have seen what managing the conflict looks like in recent weeks: a horrific and bloodstained reality," Odeh says.

"Occupation is the Palestinian people's tragedy, but also Israel's present. We must liberate both people from the occupation," Odeh says.

Odeh praised his political party, saying that "we in the Joint List are living proof that Arabs and Jews refuse to be enemies. They should struggle together against racism and for democracy."

Odeh noted that 42% of the doctors at Rambam Hospital in Haifa are Arabs. "If we can trust each other when we're most vulnerable, we can live together."

Odeh said he was developing a 10-year plan to achieve social and economic equality between Israeli Arabs and Jews.

"Our beautiful homeland is enough for us, Arabs and Jews," Odeh said. "If we turn her into a battlefield, she will spit us out," he concluded to a standing ovation.

12:14 A.M. Samantha Power: Settlement growth raises questions about Israel's long-term objectives

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power opens her remarks by recognizing Haaretz and New Israel Fund's leadership in organizing HaaretzQ conference.

"Haaretz has long understood strengthening Israeli democracy is part of its mission," Power says, lauding Haaretz publisher Amos Schocken and Editor-in-chief Aluf Benn for sticking to Haaretz's core principles.

Power says the U.S. will always stay Israel's partner despite questions if the Israel-U.S. bond is at risk. She notes the U.S. efforts to push back attempts of delegitimizing Israel at the UN, a place where "Israel hasn't always been treated fairly."

Power says bias against Israel at the UN persists and blasts the "absurdity of Israel being the only country with a standing item on the agenda - "not Syria, which gasses its citizens." She notes that the U.S. cut anti-Israel decisions at the UN Human Rights Council by half. Power says Israel fights for the ability to be treated like any other country at the UN, adding that delegitimizing Israel delegitimizes the UN. Power also criticizes the "surge" of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic attitudes in her native Ireland.

"We are under no illusion that achieving peace is easy - it takes tough choices by both sides," Power says, adding that "we have not seen sufficient commitment from either side to create conditions for peace." Power added that "continued settlement growth raises questions about Israel’s long-term objectives."

Power posed a number of hypothetical questions: How would dissolving the PA would promote an independent Palestinian state? What do we say to those in the international community who are frustrated by the lack of two-state solution? What is the explanation for settlement building in areas that will be part of the Palestinian state? What answers does Israel have for its well-wishers at UN - what concrete policies that advance a two-state solution?

Power said that the U.S. "will always" continue working for a two-state solution, opposing any efforts at the UN that undermine such a solution. Power added that she is "still awed by the brave and unpopular decisions often made by Yitzhak Rabin." READ FULL STORY

11:18 P.M. 'Striving for Freedom: What will it take to uphold human rights in Israel and the Palestinian Territories?'

Gideon Levy offers a "simplified" description of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: If I steal your car, I'm in no position to set terms for its return. New Israel Fund Board President Talia Sasson says there's no such thing as an enlightened occupation, but the issue of how to fight it is a difficult and complex issue. 

Journalist and writer Rula Jebreal says "there is no reforming an occupation, there is aborting it." Jebreal says that "if we want to fight for anything, it's for decency. If you want the land, keep it, just give me my equal right." She says that Israel’s right-wing is taking Zionism to new level that “will destroy all of us together.” Jebreal says she would like to ask her friends at HaaretzQ to revamp the Zionist project. "Sooner or later, the Israeli right will come after you."

B'Tselem Executive Director Hagai El-Ad says that "there is nothing moral about an army which has been occupying Palestine for decades." Rabbis for Human Rights' Rabbi Arik Ascherman says Israeli can live their lives as though the occupation did not exist. Palestinians are aware of the occupation every second. Ascherman says that religious Israelis are much likelier to be racist. Asked what happened to him, he says he was brought up in U.S.

Saeb Erekat at the HaaretzQ conference, December 13, 2015.
Erica Gannett for IRL Productions

Levy acknowledges Roger Waters' attendance at the conference. The crowd responds with applause. Sasson says that achieving piece will require moving 150,000 Jews from the West Bank.

11:05 P.M. ''Droves of Arab voters': Is the struggle of Israel's Arab citizens to equality the new focal point of the conflict?'

Jafar Farrah, Director of Mossawa, says he does not fly El Al to avoid being profiled. He says the challenge is to change the discussion in Israel and to create a new discourse. "We lost our homeland, our homes, we have to talk about it and resolve problems based on truth and reconciliation," Farrah says, adding that Palestinians are willing to be the minority forever.

Sayed Kashua says talk of "Israeli Arabs" vs. "Palestinian citizens of Israel" is confusing. "We have so many titles, as if we aren't confused anyway." When asked how he defines himself, he says "I'm a married man and father of three."

Kashua says that When you are a victim, it's much more difficult to use humor and satire. WHen asked if he feels guilty for his success on Israeli television, he jokes that he wakes up in the morning and feels guilty for the day before. "If writing will change my economic reality, then I will be very satisfied," Kashua jokes. He says that when he was young, he believed in the power of literature to change things, but less so today. "I hope I can watch the future of the Middle East from my big flatscreen in a big apartment on the Upper West Side," Kashua jokes.

"Last week, a group of Arabs wanted to build houses in Afula and it was amazing to see people demonstrating against them," Kashua says. "It was sad when Afula mayor said sorry, I had no idea Arabs wanted to live here." "No Arab villages have been established since 1948, that's sad and tragic," Kashua says. "I don't know how we can build a better future."

Amal Elsana Alh’jooj, NIF Board Member and AJEEC-NISPED’s Director of North American Relations, tells Kashua: I admire your work because you are brave enough to bring our inner issues out there. Alh'jooj says that underlying issues are the policy, they need a structural change. Home demolitions in the Negev are just a symptom. "If land is only Jewish land and every time a minister wants to resettle Jews, this is a problem. A change has to be holistic." Alh'jooj says that after Rivlin's speech, "I feel instrumental. This is not instrumental. This is principle, a human rights thing."

Kasua jokes to Ravit Hecht: I love flying El Al - that way, I know I will have a column next week. Communication consult Emilie Moatti says "I'm much more brilliant in Hebrew, and much more modest," adding that Israelis don't meet real Arabs often enough. Alh'jooj says: Stop counting who is on the left and who is on the right, the name of the game is democracy and human rights.

"I left because I couldn't lie any longer to my kids that one day you'll be equal here," Kashua says. "I blame it on the mother - because you don't have a Jewish mother."

10:35 P.M. 'Friendship under stress: How would Israel-U.S. ties look following the Iran deal and growing regional turmoil?'

A screen grab from U.S. President Barack Obama's address to the HaaretzQ with NIF conference.
Screen grab

Haaretz's Barak Ravid says Iran is a threat and Bibi sometimes has a point regarding Hezbollah and ISIS, but Israel is strong and not about to go away.

Zionist Union MK Omer Bar-Lev says he broke consensus and supported Iran nuclear deal because he saw most important goals were met. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) says she  voted against Iran deal because the deal didn't make region safer and Iran's post-deal actions prove it. Maloney says support for Israel should be bipartisan, but Netanyahu should stay out of American politics. Bar-Lev says Israel-U.S. working closely together is the only way to make sure Iran doesn't breach the nuclear agreement.

Israeli Foreign Ministry's Jeremy Issacharoff says Israel and U.S. have differences on Iran, but we work together on other issues. He adds that the aim of preventing Iranian militarized nuclear program is ahead of us, not behind us.

Rob Malley, Senior Advisor to the President for the Counter ISIL Campaign, says that Iran’s regional behavior hasn’t changed, but better that they do it with the nuclear deal than without. Even if they didn't change, they would do what they do without a nuclear weapon, and in next 10 years we can stop one.

Malley says he expects the new post- Iran deal memorandum of understanding between Israel and U.S. to be signed while Obama is still in office, adding that the "robust debate" about Iran won't have consequences in the U.S.-Israel security relationship. Malley, now Obama's ISIS czar, said Obama is now spending "most of his time" dealing with the ISIS threat and there is close intelligence cooperation with Israel.

Malley says part of the problem are the allies of the Assad regime which is preventing coalition of Syrians against ISIS - that's why it's important to get Iran and Russia as part of the solution,to change their behavior,if not war will go on. Bar-Lev says for Israel, it is hard to decide to prefer if we want Al-Qaida or Hezbollah on border, how do we want Syria to resolve?

Issacharoff says Israel remains concerned that Assad has chemical capabilities, and he “does not exclude” that they still have stockpile. "We want stable border, no weapons transfers to hostile parties, no chemical weapons." He adds that "all realistic Syria choices are bad for Israel. Western democracy isn't going to happen there." Maloney says countries in the region have to take responsibility for their own protection vs. ISIS. 

Malley rebuffs Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon’s assertion that U.S. is “sitting on the fence” on ISIS. "We have been going after ISIS ...but we also know that going in massively on own is wrong after lesson of Iraq," Malley says, adding that "we have to cut off ISIS finances and have counter-messaging campaigns vs 'pernicious noxious ideology.'" He says that "unless you resolve the conflict in Syria, we can't get a coalition of Syrians against ISIS."

Malley says that only resolution of Israeli-Palestinian conflict will allow Arab states to openly cooperate with Israel against ISIS. He notes that peace would not be a magic fix, but would help curb extremism and make anti-ISIS fight easier.

10:20 P.M. 'An island in a storm: How does the Middle East impact opinions and actions in Israel?'

Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni at the HaaretzQ conference, December 13, 2015.
Erica Gannett for IRL Productions

Dr. Meir Buzaglo, Hebrew University, says Piyyutim is Jewish Arab music. Musicians, Arabs and Jews playing together, are an important cultural bridge in Israel today. "If you want to change the law, change the music."

Not enough stories are written about shared living initiatives in Israel today, says SHATIL director Ronit Heyd, who calls for more involvement of the Mizrahi community in Israel's left.

10:10 P.M. 'Linking struggles: Whose lives matter?'

Haaretz's Amira Hass says activists work for decades for what politicians and institutional leaders eventually take credit for. Hass says we should use the term "non-armed resistance" instead of non-violent. Non-violent puts the onus on the occupied, instead of those responsible for the occupation, Hass says. "I think Palestinians have a right to throw stones."

Hass asks Dove Kent, Executive Director of Jews for Racial & Economic Justice: Why do you need a Jewish organization for racial and economic justice here in the U.S.? Why not join others?  “It matters to organize Jews against Islamophobia in the United States,” Kent says. "To organize as Jews in an identity-based way is not particularly powerful, but faith-rooted organizing is powerful." Kent adds that some of the most powerful movements have been led by people bringing a multiplicity of traditions to the struggle.

Suhad Babaa, Executive Director at Just Vision, says one must look at the context of Israeli-Palestinian violence - namely the occupation and inequality. Babaa says to look at number of unarmed young Palestinians killed for doing nothing but walking down the street - who is asking why? Babaa adds the IDF is very rarely held accountable for violence toward Palestinians.

Hass asks: Are white Americans really able to understand the African-American experience? Should they be allowed to give advice to the oppressed? Bridget Todd, digital strategist and community organizer, says "I've been a black woman my whole life...Folks can sympathize, but it's very difficult to say 'I know what that's like.'"

Babaa notes that "there isn't a Palestine front line activist on this panel....would have been important to this conversation."

9:32 P.M. 'Don't let friends drive drunk: What can foreign intervention accomplish?'

Haaretz's Bradley Burston suggests foreign intervention is the worst form of obscenity for Israeli officialdom.  Burston asks Colette Avital: If Netanyahu resists foreign involvement, how can we move the needle toward real change? Avital, International Secretary of Meretz, says her passion was once getting support for Israel. She says that it isn't easy to say nothing will move without foreign help. Avital adds that we have to get through the bubble in which Israelis live, in which Netanyahu acts with impunity.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin at the HaaretzQ conference in New York, December 13, 2015.
Erica Gannett for IRL Productions

Avital says that we can't change Bibi's mind - he is immune to criticism and brought Israel-U.S. relations to their lowest point.  She adds that Israelis must understand occupation has a price. European labelling had no effect, but banning soccer teams and reinstating visas to Europe would. Avital notes that she thinks boycotting academics is unjust and she is not pro-BDS, but adds that international intervention or some form of pressure is needed.

Andrew Gilmour, UN Director for Political, Peacekeeping, Humanitarian and Human Rights, says he has been told by Israelis "in distinct anatomical terms" what to do with the UN charter. He says despite this and what many say, the UN is Israel's friend. Gilmour says the UN was created to protect the weak from the strong. It is the strong who want to keep the UN out. He adds that he would echo John Kerry regarding his lack of optimism that Israelis will come around to a two-state solution in time.

Ghaith Al-Omari, Washington Institute for Near East Policy and former adviser to the PLO negotiating team, says if you view Palestinians as victims, you don't give them agency. He says we should be pushing Palestinians to help themselves internally concerning issues of governance and reform, adding that the U.S. must lead in the Middle East but not have a monopoly. 

Americans for Peace (APN)'s Lara Friedman says she has criticized Obama's handling of the peace process. Friedman says the White House should have stuck to its guns on the settlement freeze - it hurt U.S. credibility and the two-state solution. She adds that Israelis still don't feel the occupation has consequences - if you "hug" Israel, anti-peace forces take advantage. Friedman says any peace effort must be multilateral and not solely U.S.-driven, adding that Israel needs "cost" and "consequences" to destructive actions and those who impose them shouldn't apologize.

9:25 P.M. 'What’s left: Is there a future for the progressive movement in Israel?'

Zionist Union MK Merav Michaeli says that "we are constantly being accused of not being left enough," adding that the left "constantly attack one another and try to find the only way to be a leftist." She adds "when Haaretz decides to join us, that would be great."

Jafar Farrah, Director of Mossawa, accuses the Israeli left of not standing with Palestinians. Farrah says "it's about time to look at the left's relationship with Arab and Haredi communities if you want to win the next elections..." He adds that conversations on the Israeli left's future need to be held in Haifa, not New York.

Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg says that the left doesn't have a sort of test before you can join, saying "this is about the future of Israel." Michaeli says she has no issues with Farrah, saying "we're not like Meretz. We don't always think we're perfect."

Molad's Hillel Ben Sasson says: So what does Labor stand for today? This is a very blurry question. Interpeace initiative's Noam Shuster says Israel unjustly demonizes national-religious community. Shuster asks: Why is it only Tel Aviv talking with Ramallah? What about the rest of Israel's diverse communities? Shuster adds that "there are even ultra-Orthodox legal rulings which can offer very interesting solutions to peace."

9:20 P.M. 'You can't handle the truth: What is the role of the media and public discourse in shaping reality in Israel?'

Haaretz publisher Amos Schocken at the HaaretzQ conference, December 13, 2015.
Erica Gannett for IRL Productions

Channel 2's Amit Segal says Israelis are very focused on Israel. Segal says this is part of the problem - Israeli media only covers the Israeli perspective.

Alona Vinograd, of the Movement for Freedom of Information, says "freedom of information" has been catalogued as a leftist value in Israel. +972 Magazine's Noam Sheizaf says the media in Israel was never diversified, but today it's more diversified - and weaker - than ever.

Aluf Benn says that most investigative reporting in Israel today is outsourced by the media to NGOs.

8:45 P.M. 'Jerusalem burning: Is religion the solution or the problem?'

Rabbi Michael Melchior calls religion the world's biggest NGO, saying we cannot ignore its role. Melchoir says that "we have just created a coalition of Jewish and Muslim religious leaders in both Israel and Palestine to support peace."

Yudith Oppenheimer, Executive Director of Ir Amim, says the movement aiming to change the Temple Mount status quo has penetrated deeply into the Israeli political ruling class.

Shaun Casey, U.S. Special Representative for Religion and Global Affairs, says U.S. policy hadn't taken religion into account enough, adding that his job was created to engage with religious actors globally. Dan Kurtzer, Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel, says our religious leaders have failed as much as our political and diplomatic leaders.

Melchior asks: Why did were religious leaders excluded from peace talks up to now? Is peace a secularizing process? He says religious leaders shouldn't be relied upon solely to put out flames after they have been excluded from the process. He adds that he has worked on assuring Muslim leaders that only a tiny minority of Jewish leaders support change on the Temple Mount. Even Hamas, Islamic Jihad, settlers and national-religious rabbis can agree to sit together in a religion-based process.

Casey says grassroots interreligious conversations are what will sustain a peace process when it actually takes off. Melchior adds that the Israeli public simply doesn't listen when he facilitates important Muslim and Islamist leaders rejecting violence.

7:46 P.M. 'Unifying or separating: Is Israel dividing American Jewry?'

Haaretz's Chemi Shalev asks if there should be a degree of humility among American Jews about how Israel is behaving because of the danger Israelis live with.

Peter Beinart says Israeli needs a political strategy for horrible violence while showing Palestinians that non-violent coexistence can work.

Rachel A. Lerner, J Street Vice President for Community Relations, says the American Jewish community is rapidly leaving behind most American Jews. She adds that it is possible to be Jewish and pro-Palestinian, pro-Israel and pro-peace.

Matt Nosanchuk, White House liaison to the Jewish community, says that we are actively thinking about confidence-building measures partners can take even if two-state solution seems remote.

Shalev says that left-wing Israelis don't see common basis with those on the right anymore; in America there's more nuance. Beinart says a day spent in the West Bank has transformative power - it's a shattering experience. He adds that learning from all people in Israel is a wedge lever for change.

Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, asks what Israel's character will look like inside the day after the messiah comes? She asks: What are we doing to strengthen Israelis working hard when leftist U.S. Jews are just throwing up their hands?

7:30 P.M. 'Creating a new social and economic model for Israel: What can be done?'

Guy Rolnik, Founder of TheMarker, says Israel has degenerated to crony capitalism with monopolies, big business unions and media colluding against the public. Ronlik says that it's all about money and power, it's not about hawks vs. doves.

7:23 P.M. 'How are Israelis and Palestinians challenging the systems that govern them?'

Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy asks the panel: Are Israelis really challenging the system? And if not, what are we doing wrong?

Yesh Din's Michael Sfard says "I am so proud to be part of changing the discourse in Israel." He adds that "we need to measure our success by the 'cracks' Israeli dissidents create in the discourse." He says that he really believes Breaking the Silence is preparing the ground for the end of the occupation.

Conflict transformation specialist Carol Daniel Kasbari says she was "crucified" for participating in HaaretzQ conference and  told by Palestinians "we cannot do anything." She says that "my Palestinian husband and I had to leave the country because my husband couldn't live with me. How is that acceptable?"

Levy notes that he expected a social earthquake that never arrived when Breaking the Silence first emerged.

Breaking the Silence's Avner Gvaryahu tells Levy that he would read his articles while patrolling the West Bank as he served in the IDF. Gvaryahu challenges U.S. Jews to invite them to synagogues and campuses. Levy says Israeli society is in such denial that it's disconnected from reality, and does not want to face the truth. Levy adds that Breaking the Silence is delegitimized in Israel because they tell the truth.

Suhad Babaa, Executive Director at Just Vision: We ensure through "disruptive media" that human rights work gets out into the world. Babaa adds that the U.S. community needs to see and recognize that Israelis and Palestinians are sacrificing and working. Sfard says that he has some issues with the BDS movement, but it must be acknowledged as a "non-violent legitimate means of resistance."

Kasbari says the Oslo Accords are a failure and must be scrapped. She says after being fooled for 20 years, the Palestinian Authority is not accountable and Israel should be responsible. She adds that Palestinians should use the tactics of the first intifada, saying it almost achieved Palestinian goals "until that stupid Oslo." Kasbari calls on U.S. taxpayers to lobby to exclude settler-produced goods from U.S. free trade.

Gvaryahu says Women of the Wall could be a model for left-wing activists, since they managed to create a support system in the U.S.

7:20 P.M. 'Synagogue and state: Who defines the Jewishness of Israel?'

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, argues for "getting politics out of Judaism" in Israel while it "remains responsible for well-being of Judaism."

Discussing the lack of success of non-Orthodox Jews in Israel, Jacobs says Reform movement's success cannot be measured by numbers and blames the government. 

Haaretz correspondent Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt says that many ultra-Orthodox would support a "more level playing-field" with progressive Judaism.

Mickey Gitzin, Executive Director of Israel Hofshit (Be Free Israel): We as progressive camp completely forgot to speak Jewishly or relate to religious concept of Judaism.

6:45 P.M. 'It's all about the money: How does funding impact Israel's future?'

Matthew Duss, President of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, notes the conversation on Israel-Palestine has changed dramatically in recent years.

Rabbi Jill Jacobs, Executive Director of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, says the right has no problem changing facts on the ground in Israel-Palestine to the tune of millions.

Joel Braunold, ALLMEP Executive Director, notes that only $4 a year per capita is being spent on peace, reconciliation for Israelis and Palestinians, as opposed to other conflicts.

Libby Lenkinski, New Israel Fund Vice President for Strategy, says that when New Israel Fund was founded, there was in fact no civil society existing in Israel.

Duss says it's quite reasonable for the U.S. to support Israel, but to say "we can no longer protect Israel from the consequences of settlements."

6:39 P.M. 'Beyond negotiations: Can the peace process be unfrozen to achieve more than 'conflict management?'

Haaretz Editor-in-chief Aluf Benn asks the panel if the two-state paradigm is over. Zionist Union MK Merav Michaeli says that most Israelis are ignorant about Palestinians and the territories, and scared by the hardcore lies of the Israeli right-wing media.

Benn asks: Why the Israeli left failed to talk about the two-state solution during the election as elequently as Tzipi Livni just did? Michaeli says the Israeli left must find a way back to power, and the two-state solution will re-emerge like magic.

J Street founder and President Jeremy Ben Ami says we must stop talking about the dead or damaged peace process, saying it only does the left harm. Dr. Husam Zomlot, Ambassador at Large and Director of Foreign Relations Commission, Fatah, says talk of a one-state solution is most damaging to Palestinians, adding that removal of 1967 lines will remove the illegality of settlements. 

Zomlot says that the UN is a legitimate tool of non-violence for Palestinians, just like boycotts and non-violent demonstrations in West Bank and East Jerusalem. He adds that Netanyahu and Yigal Amir each each killed key opportunity moments for peace.

Dr. Robert M. Danin, Council on Foreign Relations, former head of the Jerusalem mission of the Quartet, says "I am a serial peace processor, for better or for worse." Danin says that Israeli actions as palliatives to beautify the occupation don't work and make situation worse. He asks: How can a Palestinian leader deliver on a deal when there is hardline Hamas opposition? 

Danin notes that "peace process" has become a toxic phrase. He says people on the ground must be convinced that occupation will actually end - diplomacy in sync with actual de-occupation.

Michaeli says she cannot support or invite sanctions, since it's too easy to be accused of treason in Israel these days. Zomlot says that a privileged society will never give up its privileges voluntarily, adding that there are consequences to occupation, murder with impunity.

Michaeli says that Israel isn't the only racist player and that we cannot ignore Palestinian incitement, adding that it's no good only blaming one side. She adds that we can't keep fighting over who's more right and who's more the victim.

Danin says the U.S. must demonstrate bolder leadership in the conflict, and that sanctions and boycotts are tactics without strategy that don't lead toward a national aim for Palestinians.

6:12 P.M. Saeb Erekat: Netanyahu is trying to build an apartheid system

Saeb Erekat praises Haaretz for "being courageous enough to invite me today to speak," adding that "usually Palestinians are unnamed sources."

Erekat tells of his 37-year-old nephrew killed last week at the Hizme checkpoint in the West Bank. "I don't dare talk about peace, I want to congratulate Netanyahu for destroying the culture of peace and negotiation," adding that Netanyahu is "destroying the two-state solution and trying to build an apartheid system."

Erekat adds that "a two-state solution is the most cardinal interest of the Palestinian people," saying that "there is no such thing as a one-state solution." Erekat says that "Israel will never be party to a one-state solution, they don't want solution on 1967 lines. So what's the alternative?"

Erekat says "we might not be able to achieve a two-state solution tomorrow, but Israelis and Palestinians have no other option." Erekat welcomes the EU decision to label settlement products, and says Israel should recognize the state of Palestine before any other state. He acknowledges that mistake are made, saying that "sometimes it's hard to differentiate between freedom of speech and incitement." He adds that the Palestinian leadership is "trying to fix it."

Erekat vows that "Israel has a partner on the basis of a Palestinian state with the '67 borders and East Jerusalem as its capital." He says Palestine will accept limitations on arms and military, but won't accept limitations on dignity. Erekat says the era of U.S.-brokered bilateral negotiations is over, adding that Obama and Kerry have done everything possible.

Erekat criticizes ISIS, saying they are criminals and thugs who have nothing to do with Islam. He predicts the Arab world will need "30 to 50 years" to restabilize from the current chaos, while calling for democracy in the Arab world and Israeli-Palestinian peace to defeat ISIS. Erekat adds there is no difference between ISIS and the Jewish terrorists who burned the Dawabshe family in Duma.

6:00 P.M. Tzipi Livni criticizes U.S. for not challenging Israeli, Palestinian leaders to make decisions on peace

Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni begins her remarks by praising Rivlin's participation. Livni comments that "'peace' became a dirty word" during Israel's 2015 elections, saying that "peace" has become "something the left gives to the Arabs."

Livni cautions that "democracy" will become a dirty word in the next elections since "it's something the Israeli left gives to Israeli Arabs." She accuses Netanyahu of seeing all his political rivals as "enemies," along with Israeli Arabs, the media and human rights NGOs. Livni calls for the creation of "a new and stronger camp in Israel as an ideological alternative."

Livni adds that her vision will always be securing Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, but not on all the land of Israel. Livni says that "Judaism for me is a national matter and not a religious matter," adding that "my destination in the national GPS is a Jewish and democratic state that lives in peace with the Palestinians."

Livni warns that the alternative to a two-state solution is a "bloody binational state." Livni criticizes Breaking the Silence, saying the place to voice their reports are with Israeli authorites, as well as the settlements, saying they "harm Israel's security and erode its legitimacy."

Livni criticizes the United States for not putting their framework for peace on the table and challenging Israeli and Palestinian leaders to make decisions.

5:35 P.M. Rivlin says military alone will not protect Israel, praises Haaretz as 'beacon for freedom of expression'

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has warm words for Haaretz, a newspaper that he said he has read for 70 years, beginning with the children’s version of the newspaper he read in his youth, despite the fact that his right-wing Likud politics was far from the editorial line of the newspaper, saying that Haaretz “carries great value.”

“All these years I read Haaretz to learn what people who do not share my opinion think,” he says.

“I am often annoyed and angry by what I read and I insist on reading the paper again and again. Haaretz is not only about news, it's a beacon for freedom of expression in Israel.”

“In times of right-wing coalitions and left-wing coalitions, Haaretz always remained in the opposition. It criticized both sides. Being in the opposition is not an easy job. Most of my youth I belonged to the opposition - to the wrong side.”

He declares that “without a live and kicking opposition, our democracy is worth little. I am here today because I believe that the free market of ideas is a holy principle.”

Rivlin praises the Israel Defense Forces, saying that "from time to time, the obvious should be said: the IDF does everything to keep the highest moral standards possible," adding that "we are very proud of the IDF, a moral army to whom we owe our existence." Rivlin also praises Obama, saying that "while we may have different views on the Palestinian issue, his commitment to a secure Israel is beyond question." READ FULL STORY

5:31 P.M. In a video address to the HaaretzQ: with NIF conference in New York, U.S. President Barack Obama said that peace is the only way that Israel can remain a Jewish and democratic state. Obama condemned the recent spate of terrorist attacks against Israelis, and urged the Israeli government to bring to justice anyone who commits acts of violence against Palestinians. READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

Tzipi Livni's speech at Haaretz conference in New York

5:25 P.M. New Israel Fund chief Daniel Sokatch says these may seem like dark times, but we should light a Hannukah candle of hope. Sokatch sayd "we are not a marginal movement," and although the Israeli left is "demonized" in Israel, he remains "proud and grateful for Haaretz's voice. Sokatch concludes by calling on all to "rededicate ourselves to strengthething Israeli democracy."

Daniel J. Sokatch and Talia Sasson at HaaretzQ Conference in New York.

5:20 P.M. Haaretz publisher Amos Schocken speaks of Haaretz's history as a Zionist publication, "supporting the founding and strengthening of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state." Schocken adds that Haaretz continues to stay committed to democracy, in contrast to the settler vision.

Amos Schocken, Haaretz Publisher at HaaretzQ conference in New York.
Charlotte Hall, Haaretz English Edition Editor at HaaretzQ conference in New York