Yesterday I had the great honour, and high privilege to attend a Chatham House conference marking 60 years of UK-Israeli foreign relations, at the invitation of the Israeli embassy here in London.
The conference was organised to celebrate 6 decades of international relations between the two countries and to ponder the current and future state of affairs. We in the audience were most fortunate in that the keynote address was delivered in person by the President of Israel, Shimon Peres. Click here for a link to his address.
Convened by the always smooth Dr. Robin Niblett, the day featured panels examining bilateral relations, economic and scientific issues as well as security matters. The make-up of the panellists reflected the high quality of the day and included Dr. Claire Spencer from Chatham House, Sir Malcolm Rifkind MP, Israel’s Ambassador to London, HE Ron Proser, the ever effervescent Baroness Susan Greenfield, James Blitz from the Financial times, Dr. Uzi Arad, former Chairman of the Israeli National Security Council, and Sir Richard Dearlove, former head of MI-6.
It was a remarkable day full of remarkable people, addressing a remarkable relationship that continues to redefine itself on a regular basis. The day was brought to a fitting conclusion with a talk from the UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, the Right Honourable William Hague, MP. Click here for a video of his remarks.
I was able to ask the Foreign Secretary about the constraints upon the British government and the quest for peace in the Middle East of having to conform to the straightjacket of the American political timetables.
The talk very much highlighted the traditional level of excellence at Chatham House and reminded us of the need for continued dialogue in this troubled world.