Obama and Netanyahu to speak at Washington forum

Obama and Netanyahu to speak at Washington forum

Peace talks, Iran and Syria will be discussed at weekend event highlighting US-Israel relations

Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu speaks at the Saban Forum held in Jerusalem on November 15, 2009 (photo credit: Ouria Tadmor/FLASH90)
Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu speaks at the Saban Forum held in Jerusalem on November 15, 2009 (photo credit: Ouria Tadmor/FLASH90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama are both set to speak at a high-level conference in Washington, DC, this weekend focused on Israel’s relationship with the United States.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and his American counterpart John Kerry will also address the annual Saban Forum confab at the Brookings Institution.

This year’s event is entitled “US-Israel Relations in a Dynamic Middle East,” and will focus on the renewed peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the Syrian civil war, and the Iranian nuclear negotiations.

Netanyahu and the numerous other Israeli politicians set to partake in the event — including Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Energy and Water Resources Minister Silvan Shalom, and Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz — will speak via webcast.

The prime minister will be interviewed by PBS News host Charlie Rose on Sunday, and Liberman by Washington Post columnist David Ignatius on Friday. Obama will speak with Haim Saban, an Israeli-American mogul who funds the forum, on Saturday morning and Kerry will deliver the keynote address later that day.

The annual forum, now in its 10th year, is organized by The Saban Center for Middle East Policy and aims to foster dialogue between American and Israeli political figures on the most pressing issues in the Middle East.

In a press release, Tamara Cofman Wittes, director of the Saban Center, highlighted the forum’s increased pertinence this year in light of peace and security issues currently facing Jerusalem and Washington.

This year’s forum comes as ties between the US and Israel have become increasingly strained following the interim nuclear deal signed in Geneva last month between Iran and six world powers including the US, which Netanyahu staunchly and outspokenly opposed.

US officials responded that they were “very frustrated” by the backlash.

In addition, Kerry slammed Israel’s West Bank policies in early November, much to the displeasure of the Israeli leadership.

Kerry, in Israel on Thursday, appeared to take a more conciliatory stance toward Israel, stressing that Washington’s main concern in talks with Iran remains Israel’s security.

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