Syria hangs over ‘Jerusalem Post’ conference

New York conference to feature panel talks on 2-state solution, security threats facing Israel, energy.

Former Israeli ambassador to US Michael Oren. (photo credit: Hyungwon Kang / Reuters)
Former Israeli ambassador to US Michael Oren.
(photo credit: Hyungwon Kang / Reuters)
NEW YORK – As some of the biggest names in Israeli politics prepare remarks for the second annual Jerusalem Post Conference, one thing can be guaranteed: After developments this week in Washington, every speaker can be expected to address allegations that Syria’s Bashar Assad has used chemical weapons against his own people.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post before his speech to the conference on Sunday, Ambassador to Washington Michael Oren said that Israel would not push the United States toward engaging directly in the Syrian fight, as Israel’s red line on that conflict is distinct from Washington’s: Any attempt to transfer chemical weapons to Hezbollah, Oren said, would not be tolerated.
“Israel and the United States are sovereign countries, and whether it’s with Syria or Iran, each country has the right to determine how best to act and defend itself,” Oren told the Post.
Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, former director of the IDF’s Military Intelligence, also spoke of red lines last week, challenging Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s timeline by saying that Iran was already at the cusp of acquiring nuclear weapons capability. He will be joined by former IDF chief of staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Gabi Ashkenazi and former Mossad head Meir Dagan, among others, on a “General’s Forum” panel discussion at the conference on how to address security threats from Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas.
Dagan – who famously presented evidence to the administration of US president George W. Bush of a nuclear weapons facility in eastern Syria in 2007 – is set to provide perspective on the debate surrounding intelligence quality assessments emerging from the Syrian conflict this week. It will be the first public appearance for Dagan – who had a liver transplant in October – in more than a year.
The conference, held on Sunday at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square, will be attended by more than 1,000 guests. Joining Oren, Yadlin and Dagan will be Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom, International Relations Minister Yuval Steinitz and Jerusalem Post Senior Contributing Editor Caroline B. Glick, among others. The keynote speaker will be former prime minister Ehud Olmert.
The daylong event will be moderated by Jerusalem Post correspondent Yaakov Katz, and will be live-tweeted and blogged on the paper’s website,
Three panel discussions will take place in the afternoon – on the two-state solution, the strategic threats facing the Jewish state, and Israel’s energy potential.