On November 14-16, 2009, the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings brought together top Israeli and American policymakers, journalists, and members of the public and private sectors to Jerusalem for discussions on the most critical issues in the Middle East.
The 2009 Saban Forum, "The U.S.-Israel Partnership: Can New Governments Overcome Old Challenges," came at an important moment in the U.S.-Israel relationship. Both countries have elected new leaderships to deal with many of the same issues of war and peace that have confronted previous American and Israeli governments – how to end the Arab-Israeli conflict; how to curb Iran’s nuclear program; how to ensure sustainable human development in the Middle East – but do not see eye-to-eye on the best way forward.
The Forum began on Saturday, November 14, 2009 with an opening dinner that included a conversation on American and Israeli worldviews with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg and Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Avigdor Liberman.
The following day, Sunday, November 15, 2009, the Forum held a conversation with former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on the challenges of pursuing peace negotiations during uncertain times. Participants then spent the day in Ramallah with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and returned to Jerusalem in the evening for the Forum’s Gala Dinner. The Gala Dinner included an off-the-record conversation with former-President William J. Clinton and keynote remarks by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Gala Dinner concluded with a discussion on alternative energy and the environment with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Congressman Henry Waxman that was moderated by Shai Agassi, the founder and chief executive officer of the electric car company Better Place.
On Monday, November 16, 2009, participants took part in a series of discussion sessions on Iran and the status of the peace process. The Forum ended with a conversation with Minister of Defense Ehud Barak on the U.S.-Israel strategic relationship.
The Saban Forum has quickly become recognized as a unique venue for high-level dialogue between American and Israeli leaders. In attendance at the Forum were Senator Joseph Lieberman; Senator Lindsey Graham; Senator Ted Kaufman; Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intelligence and Atomic Energy, Dan Meridor; Israel’s Minister of Social Affairs and Services, Isaac Herzog; Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Congressman Howard Berman; Chairman of House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Congressman Henry Waxman; Chairwoman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, Congresswoman Nita Lowey; Member of Knesset Shaul Mofaz; Member of Knesset Yuli Tamir; Member of the Knesset Dalia Itzik; Chief of Defense Intelligence, Israel Defense Forces, Amos Yadlin; Director, Israel Security Agency (Shabak) Yuval Diskin; Congresswoman Jane Harman; and Congresswoman Susan Davis.
The Saban Forum Proceedings presents summaries and photographs of the dialogue sessions, the list of participants, the program, and a transcript of the event’s keynote address »