Israel in a Turbulent Region: A Conversation with Ephraim Sneh
Israel sits at the center of a region in the throes of several major challenges, including the situations in Iran, Syria, and Lebanon as well as the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Wilson Center hosted a conversation with Ephraim Sneh, a long-time Israeli official and analyst of Israel’s foreign policy and the region at large. He addressed these challenges as well as the state of U.S.-Israeli relations.
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Israel sits at the center of a region in the throes of several major challenges, including the situations in Iran, Syria, and Lebanon as well as the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Wilson Center hosted a conversation with Ephraim Sneh, a long-time Israeli official and analyst of Israel’s foreign policy and the region at large. He addressed these challenges as well as the state of U.S.-Israeli relations. Selected Quotes
Aaron David Miller
“We cannot lose hope. There’s no question about that. Is a two-state solution possible? Yes, it’s possible… On the Israeli side, you are likely talking about a prime minister who can form a government that would be dedicated and committed to this proposition. It’s not just the prime minister, it’s the capacity to create a sustainable coalition.” “It’s the rhythmic patterns of the past that are worth paying attention to, and if you look at those rhythmic patterns when it comes to peacemaking on [the Israeli] side, it’s a history of transformed hawks. It’s not a history of leaders who felt a moral or ethical responsibility… So when you talk about what might motivate an Israeli or Palestinian leader, or an Arab leader, it's insurgency and war. It's pain, usually, accompanied by the prospects of gain.”
“A period of ceasefire will serve the Hamas to rearm, improve its armament, and educate another generation of children that Israel must be wiped out. So if this idea of an arrangement, a ceasefire, will fail, we can expect that the provocations on the border that Hamas is now trying to create will deteriorate to something that will be uncontrollable – and then what will happen is another confrontation in the size and the character of August 2014.” “This is about Gaza – we have to be very realistic. I’m often asked, ‘What is the solution?’ To those who understand Gaza, there is no solution which is only military, only diplomatic, [or] only economic. It must be a combination of political solution; military solution, by disarming Hamas; and an economic solution, by trying to rebuild the economy of this place where we have two million hungry and thirsty people... The accumulation of human suffering may explode to a military confrontation somewhere in the next year.” “The question is ‘Can we reach an agreement, an arrangement, of two states?’ It means partition of the territory. The price for us is about 100,000 settlers will have to be relocated. With all the implications this has, this is the only way to solve the problem. This is the price. There are benefits from agreement, economic benefits, that by far [outweigh] this price. The relations that we will have with the Arab countries, especially the wealthy Arab countries, will give the Israeli economy an unmeasurable horizon of development. So there is a price for the solution, but there is a reward.” “Unfortunately, the quality of people in Israeli politics is not as high as the quality of the Israeli elite in business and in military and in academic life… But I believe that there are enough responsible people in the government that will be elected that are serious enough and responsible enough to understand that they don’t have another choice. If they leave things [as they are], they will be blamed by history. No one will forgive them if they miss the opportunity [to negotiate with Palestinians].”
Middle East Program
The Wilson Center’s Middle East Program serves as a crucial resource for the policymaking community and beyond, providing analyses and research that helps inform U.S. foreign policymaking, stimulates public debate, and expands knowledge about issues in the wider Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Read more
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