The first salvo of the campaign season will be fired Thursday morning at the third annual Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference, two days after the Knesset voted to dissolve itself and pave the way for parliamentarian elections on March 17.
The conference at the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem, which will be streamed live beginning at 9:15 a.m., will feature speeches by Yesh Atid leader and former finance minister Yair Lapid and Interior Minister Gilad Erdan of the Likud, in which they will likely outline their parties’ platforms for the coming election.
Featuring speeches by honored guests President Reuven Rivlin, former president Shimon Peres, and US Ambassador Dan Shapiro, the conference, which will be moderated by Editor-in- Chief Steve Linde, will be attended by more than 300 ambassadors and attachés, 100 representatives of the local and international media, and leading Israeli civic, military and business leaders.
“The purpose of the Jerusalem Post conference is to bring together ambassadors from around the world so that they can hear views of senior and influential Israeli leaders,” said Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO of the Jerusalem Post Group. “Our hope is that this conference will serve as a platform for discussion, listening one to another, and creating conduits to countries around the world, in an aim to create solidarity with Israel.”
Topics that will be addressed at the conference, taking place for the first time in Jerusalem, will include the precarious security situation in the country, especially the capital.
Attendees and viewers will hear from Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and Maj.-Gen. Nimrod Shefer, head of the IDF Planning Directorate, on the challenges of maintaining security in a volatile environment.
The Post’s veteran diplomatic correspondent, Herb Keinon, will moderate a panel on “Europe-Israel: Threats and Opportunities,” featuring Italian Ambassador Francesco Maria Talo; Denmark’s Ambassador Jesper Vahr; CEO of the Jewish Leadership Council UK Simon Johnson; Foreign Ministry deputy director-general Aviv Shir-On; Deputy Knesset Speaker and chairman of the European Forum of the Knesset MK Hilik Bar; Israeli Jewish Congress president Vladimir Slutsker; and Post Senior Contributing Editor Caroline Glick.
“The relationship between Israel and the international community – whether it be Europe or the US – is vital to the future stability of the country,” said Post editor Linde.
“And the conference, with this all-star panel and with the speech by Ambassador Shapiro, will present an opportunity for some of the main players to present their vision of where we are headed.”
Demonstrating that Israel is a multi-dimensional, vibrant country, the conference will also feature Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund chairman Efi Stenzler and Zion Kenan, president and CEO of Bank Hapoalim, who will present the winner of Bank Hapoalim’s Start-Up Nation competition.
Regardless of interests or views, all eyes and ears will be turning Thursday morning to the David Citadel Hotel when the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference gets under way.