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Protokoll: EUROPA IM DISKURS zum Nahostkonflikt

Mit Politikwissenschaftlerin Rula Hardal, JOURNALISTIN UND NAHOSTEXPERTIN Gudrun Harrer, Außenminister Alexander Schallenberg und Politik- und strategieberaterin Dahlia Scheindlin, Moderation: Misha Glenny, Rektor des Instituts für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen (IWM)

Podiumsdiskussion mit Begrüßung durch Maribel Königer, Kommunikationsdirektorin der ERSTE Stifung, am 21. Jänner 2024 im Burgtheater.

Europa im Diskurs Podiumsgäste
© Regine Hendrich

MARIBEL Königer Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Maribel Königer. I'm the director of communications, journalism and media of ERSTE Foundation, Die ERSTE Stiftung. And I'm delighted to welcome you to this first Debating Europe Matinée in 2024 in the Burgtheater. I welcome you on behalf of the four partners, who have been organizing this series of high level debates for over a decade already. These are obviously the Burgtheater, the ERSTE Foundation, the Institute of Human Sciences, and the daily DER STANDARD. Normally, the welcome includes some brief remarks about why we have chosen the particular topic of today. Instead, let me tell you a secret from behind the scenes. We are on a stage here. In all these years of debating Europe, Europa im Diskurs, it has never been so difficult to bring people together on this famous stage. And in the past we have had many controversial topics in the programme. It was very difficult for obvious reasons. The public debate around the violent conflict in the Gaza Strip is extremely heated, of course. The brutal massacre by Hamas on October 7th last year, and Israel's subsequent destructive military operation in the Gaza Strip, have touched people all over the world. Many have relatives or friends who were killed, taken hostage or had to flee their home. Our task was to put together a balanced panel, actually like every time, of relevant speakers, who would reflect various perspectives on the conflict. Who are willing to talk to each other. Who are able to leave a region in war. And who are not just communicating their position but are interested in a real discussion. A discussion on the question whether there is a chance for peace in the Middle East and what role Europe can play in this. Those of you who are regular guests of Debating Europe, the Debating Europe series, know that the format is not intended to be a superficial talk show. We want to create a forum where we can all learn something new, about a topic we think we know everything about. I'm very confident that we will enjoy this kind of discussion today, because we have wonderful guests. Please welcome our guests and the moderator, Misha Glenny, who will introduce them in a minute. Thank you very much.

Misha Glenny Good morning, everyone. As we all know, it's become very difficult to have a measured conversation on the current situation, both in Gaza, Israel, and in the wider Middle East. We live in a highly polarized world, and this has impacted communities and politics, not just in Gaza, Israel and the West Bank, but around the globe as emotions are running very high. But ultimately, as human beings, we know that we can only solve conflicts by talking to each other. As the holder of an Irish as well as a British passport, I have observed in my lifetime how previously implacable enemies learned to talk to each other in Northern Ireland. What we, the Institute for Human Sciences, der Standard, die Erste Stiftung and the Burgtheater hope to do is to offer a space for rational debate in a highly emotive and irrational world. And to do that, we've invited a distinguished panel to whom I'm very grateful that they have agreed to come here this morning. Two of my guests, Rula Hardal and Dahlia Scheindlin, arrived yesterday from Tel Aviv. Actually, Rula arrived this morning because she failed to make the connection in Zürich, so she's had a very stressful time getting here. So we're very grateful to them, sincerely grateful, for the efforts that they have made in trying to help us understand what is really going on. So before we start the conversation, let me introduce the panel. To my far left we have Alexander Schallenberg, who needs little introduction in this forum. He's a highly experienced Austrian diplomat and politician, who has served as Minister of Foreign Affairs since 2019. This, of course, is discounting his brief career break from foreign policy, when he spent two months as the chancellor of Austria in 2021. Personally, in his place, I would have returned to the Foreign Ministry as well if I had the chance. To my left, Rula Hardal is a research fellow at the Kogod center for the Study of Jewish and Contemporary Thought at the Shalom Hartman Institute and she was a lecturer at the Arab American University on the campus for Advanced Studies in Ramallah. She is the co-director of "Land for All - Two States, One homeland". She graduated from the School of Social Work at the Hebrew University, received a second degree from Haifa, before being awarded a doctorate in political science from the University of Hannover. Doctor Hardal is active in several initiatives, aiming to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and she is a board member of the Adalah organization, the Legal Center for the rights of the Arab Minority in Haifa. She also serves as a political commentator for domestic and international media and has taught at the Al-Quds University in East Jerusalem. Then over to my far right, we have Gudrun Harrer, who again needs little introduction here in Vienna. A distinguished academic and journalist, who teaches modern Arab history and Middle Eastern history at the University of Vienna and the Diplomatic Academy. Doctor Harrer was sent to Baghdad by the government, as a special envoy during Austria's presidency of the European Union in 2008 or 2007 I think.

gudrun harrer 2006.

Misha Glenny 2006, I was almost there. She also boasts a long association with one of our co-sponsors today, the newspaper DER STANDARD, where she has been, amongst other things, the foreign editor and a highly respected columnist. And then to my immediate right, Dahlia Scheindlin is a fellow at Century International, that's a think tank in in New York. It has a center for international research and policy, she herself is based in Tel Aviv. She's a public opinion expert and an international political and strategic consultant, as well as a scholar and a writer. She's been an adviser and conducted polling research in nine election campaigns in Israel over 25 years and has provided research for elections, referenda and Civil society campaigns in 15 different countries. And her most recent book "The Crooked Timber of Democracy in Israel - Promise unfulfilled", I presume the title is a reference to Kant, but you can elaborate on that, was published in September anticipating many of the problems that we we've faced from the subsequent month of October. It's a trenchant analysis of the vulnerabilities which face Israeli democratic culture and which some would argue have become all too evident in recent years. So welcome to all of my panelists. Thank you very much for coming. And I'm going to start with Minister Schallenberg. Yesterday, Israel stepped up its bombing and ground campaign against Khan Younis in the centre south of Gaza. The humanitarian situation there is widely recognised as being catastrophic. We saw militias in Iraq attack a US base overnight. Elsewhere, Iran has accused Israel of killing four military advisers in Syria. The US is continuing its attacks on Houthi positions in Yemen, and Iran has launched missiles this week against Iraqi, Syrian and Pakistani territory for various reasons. So, there is a fear that what we're seeing is the beginning of an escalation from Gaza, Israel, into a wider Middle East conflict. Now, you've just returned from the annual World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, where you spoke, as I understand, to leaders from both Israel and neighbouring Arab countries, as well as with humanitarian organisations. My first question is, whether your talks in Davos and these latest developments have led to a shift in your assessment of what's happening in Israel and Gaza and what the implications are.

Alexander Schallenberg Well, you know, a short version, I would say no. We have since the 7th of October been in contact with everybody in the region, and Austria has a very good and close relationship and friendly relationship with Arab countries. But we stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel and the security of Israel for us is paramount, its raison d'etre to a certain degree. And thus the situation hasn't changed. But yes, we are fully aware that the humanitarian situation in Gaza is critical.

zuschauerin ... ist schuldig!

Alexander Schallenberg But that's exactly what I want to refer to. You know, the biggest problem is whenever you talk about this situation, people have vested interests. People have already made their opinion up basically on the 8th of October. And it's extremely difficult to talk about the conflict without having, you know, without taking ten minutes because you have so many angles you have to look at. So, one thing I want to make, one point I want to make. Israel has not only the right, but the duty to defend itself. No state on this planet would suffer or accept to have next to its border a terrorist organization which wants to annihilate the state.

zuschauerin And Israel has a terrorist organization!

Misha Glenny Can I ask people from the –

Zuschauer How dare you speak?

Alexander Schallenberg Well.

Misha Glenny Can I ask from the audience to allow for –

Alexander Schallenberg Hamas is a terrorist organization. And we make the difference between the Palestinians, PLO, Fatah and Hamas. There's a big difference.

Misha Glenny We need to have a rational –

Zuschauer 30,000 people are murdered!

Misha Glenny We need to have, I understand your concerns and we can see your banner, which is fine, but we're not going to get anywhere with our guests unless you allow them to speak. So please, I respectfully ask you to remain silent during the conversation.

Alexander Schallenberg And yes, I mean, you're right. Palestinian lives matter. Israeli lives matter. Every life lost.

+++ Unterbrechung im Publikum +++

Alexander Schallenberg Can I finish a sentence? Every life lost is one life too much. That's a little bit the problem of a middle East debate.

+++ Unterbrechung im Publikum +++

Misha Glenny We're not going to get anywhere here if you don't permit the guests to speak. So I would again respectfully request –

Alexander Schallenberg It was to be expected, there's probably too much emotion in this debate. But just to make the point, and that's important for me as Austrian foreign minister, Palestinian lives matter, absolutely. Israeli lives matter. Every victim is one too many. And yes, our goal has to be that this conflict can stop as quickly as possible. But again, we should never forget where it started. It's the 7th of October. We should never make a reversal of perpetrators and victims. And we still have an organization launching, every day, a terrorist organization, launching everyday attacks on Israel. It would be in the hands of Hamas to stop this. They could give up. They could free the hostages. We still have the majority of people being held by Hamas and we hope they're still alive. So, this is something whenever we talk about the situation, we have to keep this in mind. And I can tell you, leaders around the world, being led by the US, for instance, and others. And I had a lengthy conversation with my colleague and friend, Prince Faisal from Saudi Arabia in Davos, I will see him on Monday again in Brussels. He's one of the smartest, probably in the region. Saudi Arabia has a key role in this. We are all trying to reach the same thing that this conflict can stop. But I have to understand –

Zuschauer Why you vote against the ceasefire?

Misha Glenny I will be, I will be asking.

Zuschauer Ceasefire Now! Ceasefire Now!

Misha Glenny I will be asking the questions and you will not be able to hear the answers.

Zuschauer And you are speaking about peace. You are the last person to speak about peace.

Misha Glenny I will not be able to.

Zuschauer Shame on you! And shame on you!. Ceasefire Now! Ceasefire Now! Ceasefire Now! You are speaking about peace.

Misha Glenny We cannot have a we cannot have a discussion unless you allow.

Zuschauer What did you say about the children that died?

Alexander Schallenberg I did, by the way.

Zuschauer My children. Right. As men.

Misha Glenny If you allow me, if you allow me, I will be able to address the issues that you are raising, but perhaps in a slightly less confrontational manner.

Alexander Schallenberg It's a very different Q&A, so to say.

Misha Glenny Yes it's a sort of Q&A.

Alexander Schallenberg But I didn't react each time because it's not true.

Misha Glenny Let me follow up with that question of the ceasefire. In December, in the UN, two EU countries voted against the call for a ceasefire. That was the Czech Republic and Austria. Given the –

Zuschauer Why did you vote against it?

Misha Glenny I'm asking the question, I can only ask, you can't get a response. I can get a response. So, I would ask you respectfully.

Zuschauer You voted against stopping the killing.

Misha Glenny I'm about to ask that very question. But you won't get an answer.

Zuschauer You're going to make this, your government voted against ceasefire and for the death of 34,000 persons, who ended up children, women, civilians. Your government, your local government, government.

Misha Glenny You're not going to be able to get support.

Zuschauer You don't care about the live of the Palestinians. The conflict did not start at 7th of October. The conflict started when Israel –

Misha Glenny So, Minister. As I was saying, Austria and the Czech Republic voted against a ceasefire, given the level of destruction and humanitarian distress that we're witnessing in Gaza, is there any point, a moment when Austria will say this has just gone too far.

Alexander Schallenberg A very important point I have to make. We did not vote against the ceasefire. We voted against the resolution. Where they –

+++ Unterbrechung im Publikum +++

Alexander Schallenberg Can I please finish the sentence.

Misha Glenny Let the minister answer!

Alexander Schallenberg We did not vote against the ceasefire. We voted against the resolution where we have proposed amendments ourselves, which unluckily didn't achieve the two thirds majority, and where we wanted Hamas to be called by its name, and we wanted the right to self-defense of Israel to be mentioned. Because if we have a UN resolution, we shouldn't be blind on one eye. And so we didn't. I'm all in favour, we are in favour of ceasefires. Why? Because the prime goal has to be to get the hostages out. And in order to get the hostages out, we need ceasefires. It's very simple logic. So to tell me I'm against ceasefires is simply wrong. And I did not vote against it.

Zuschauerin What about our hostages? Should we talk about our hostages?

Zuschauer You give him a chance, then we can!

Misha Glenny Exactly. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Minister Schallenberg, thank you very much for that clarification. I'm going to move over to Rula Hardal now. Rula you've not only been writing about, commenting on, assessing the events since October the 7th, you've also had to live through this in traumatized communities. So, can I ask you first, and then I'll also ask Dahlia the same question, what your experiences have been like in the past three months, and how is it impacted on you and your communities?

Rula Hardal Well, um, first of all.

Zuschauerin 30,000 Palestinians murdered.

Misha Glenny Would you like to hear a Palestinian? Would you like to hear a Palestinian talk about it?

Zuschauerin There's nothing to discuss here! This is a massacre, this is genocide.

Misha Glenny Would you like to hear a Palestinian, who is living there in Israel talk about it?

Zuschauerin And have your bougeois discussions about peace and whatnot. No we have to be heard. Palestinians are not heard, free Palestine.

Misha Glenny We're trying to hear. We're trying to hear a Palestinian now.

Zuschauerin Free, free Palestine!

Rula Hardal Okay. Well, I do understand them, and I am with them. I have the same position and I can now start a lecture, only reacting to some points that you mentioned. Now regarding, how we conceptualize Hamas and the right of Israel, of self-determination. I think Israel is an established sovereign state. The people who are missing the right of self-determination are the Palestinian people. Besides, I think it's a moral failure for Austria, for all European people who are not able to put pressure on their governments to stop the war in Gaza. And it's not a war against Hamas. It's a war against all the Palestinian people. And believe me, I feel it myself even though I don't live in Gaza and I don't know people in Gaza. I live far away. It's a war against all Palestinian people. Even the Palestinian citizens of the State of Israel. And I think we need before we speak about the possibility of peace, even if you don't like what I'm saying, I think it's not respectful not to listen, anyway. Before we speak about peace and scenarios for peace and the possibility for peace now or later on, I do think, yes, we need to speak about peace, because each war, each conflict, ethnic national conflict will end one day. This is what we learned from the history. And I believe that also in Israel, Palestine and between the Israelis and the Palestinians, we need a real peace and real reconciliation and a kind of political vision for both people. But before speaking about that day, we need to refer to the historic political conflict, context of this situation. And not only by referring to October 7th, but before that. The most important: It didn't start with the attack of Hamas against the Jewish population in the south of Israel. It's a kind of accumulation and escalation. And another phase of the relationship between the Palestinians and the Israelis. And if you want, it's a reaction of the Israeli governments during the last mainly two and a half decades, and especially after the failure of Oslo, but before speaking about the whole context. Personally, I feel insulted. Deeply insulted as a Palestinian person by the Israelis, by the Israeli government and by the whole world. This is one. Second, I do have my fears. Really, I do have my fears. And my family, who lives in the northern part of Israel, Palestine, in the Galilee area, they have their fears, of the racism inside Israel and of the possibility of another war or another, more escalation in the northern part with Hezbollah. And I do have my fears because of the fanatic atmosphere inside Israel. Where I'm a citizen, I do live also in Ramallah, so I'm very connected to the Palestinian society. And I have my fears, about the future of the Palestinian people and the possibility of being able to live together as two national groups after what's happening. But this is the nature of conflicts and wars, and I do put all of these feelings, my feelings and the collective feelings of the Israelis as well as the Palestinians, these deep, hard feelings of fear and mistrust, is very natural. But I do believe that things can be changed if we get ceasefire. And I started to say, it's a moral failure of the whole world that we still, after three and a half months, we don't have a ceasefire. And the whole world is watching the Palestinian people in Gaza dying. They don't have clean water to drink, they don't have enough food. Not to speak about the other health problems and security problems. And the whole world is is looking at the Palestinian people as their lives are not important. They are not equal to any other human beings in the world and accordingly, also not as the Jewish Israeli people's life. And it's something that morally I cannot accept it. It's a moral failure of all the European countries, if not to say all countries in the world. So, the first thing before, to make it clear, even when I speak about the future vision and the day after, we cannot ignore the day before, it's not the October 7th, it's the October 6th and the three decades before that, after the failure of Oslo. And the war now, I am not ignoring the attack of Hamas. I'm not ignoring the brutal nature of the of the attacks of Hamas against, I morally I have a problem with that. But we cannot ignore the whole context. And we need to keep in mind all of these points when we or before we start speaking about any kind of peace or political vision.

Misha Glenny Thank you, Rula. Dahlia Scheindlin then there's the same question to you. How has the past three months affected you personally and in your work as well?

Dahlia Scheindlin Thank you for the question. Thank you for having me and for being here. And thank you to my colleagues. I think it's affected all of us in extremely deep and profound negative ways. It makes it basically feel like there is no hope and no horizon. I think that when we talked about the moral failure of the world, there has been a moral failure that certainly pre-dated October 7th, and that's a failure. I don't want to blame it all on the world, because I think that sounds like we're not taking responsibility. But some of us, I know at least in my life, I've spent a lot of my life working on peace related activities. Whether it's working as a political advisor or as a writer, or as a civil society activist, advancing various forms of resolving the conflict. Pretty much everything I do for two or three decades has been oriented towards, working towards ending the occupation and reaching peace. And, you know, I'm certainly not alone. However, there has been a failure of leadership. There has been intention over the decades on the Israeli side, and I am Israeli, so I feel like I can speak openly and critically of my own government, not to accept Palestinian self-determination and statehood. On the Palestinian side, there have been failures of leadership, and over the last decade and a half, I would say roughly, there has been also a failure of the international community to prioritize this. And you know, people like me –again it's not just me obviously, who have devoted most of their lives to thinking about how to advance a better policy, how to end the occupation, how to end an ongoing military conflict – have been saying for years, not in hindsight, not on October 8th, we've been saying for years that when you have an unresolved military conflict and occupation, there will be inevitable cycles of violence. We didn't have to predict it because it happened time after time. War after war. And the irony of what happened on October 7th – I know I'm mixing the personal and the political, but it's hard to separate them – is that on October 7th, I wasn't in the region, I was in Armenia, and I was in Armenia because I had gone to write some in-depth articles about the fact that 100,000 to 120,000 Armenians were expelled by Azerbaijan violently from Nagorno-Karabakh.

Misha Glenny In the space of about 24 hours.

Dahlia Scheindlin 24 hours. Yes, 24 hours, two days. And there were horrible things that happened, and people were killed in various terrible ways. I mean, it was what many saw. What upset me about it, was that it was another example of a long simmering, unresolved conflict between two entities, two states that just went on and festered. And nobody paid attention to it, and not that nobody paid attention to it – of course, there were some efforts, but they all failed over the years. And now we have a situation, where military force of one state is the ultimate resolution of the conflict. And that's, you know, I was so upset by it because it just made me think this is the one that most people aren't going to notice. After a few days, it basically fell out of the news. Russia Ukraine was another example of essentially states resolving their disputes through aggressive military force. And then while I was in Yerevan, I see what's happening in Israel, Palestine. And within, I would say 1 or 2 hours of seeing the developments from the morning, you know, as I could see things, probably not even an hour, it was clear to me that this was going to escalate into apocalyptic violence beyond anything we had ever seen. And that this was going to lead to some sort of a resolution of this conflict by military force. Which, to my mind, is a complete violation of the entire post-war international order that I have wanted to believe in my whole life. And it has been undermined for years. And there's been these numerous examples. And so, it's just one of the many, many things that was devastating about what happened. And then, you know, on the personal level, of course, it makes it very hard because I have people who wrote to me right away and said, what do you say about the Palestinians now? Because people know that I'm involved in peace activities. And on October 7th, how can I answer that question? I know what I think. I know what I think that this conflict has been hijacked by the most extreme elements. Okay? And I know exactly who my partners are. When people say there's no partner, I absolutely know they're wrong, because everybody I know among Palestinians is a partner. There's no other way to, there's no other way to put it. But how do you talk about that in Israel now? How do you convince people of that in Israel now? It's very hard to make this case. So on the one hand, you know, these were sort of very, very personal issues. But I think that the conclusion, at least the conclusion that I came to pretty quickly is that within the first few days, you know, one of the first things that happened is that people kept coming to me and saying, what's the political ramifications of all this? And I just said, don't ask me. Yes, I'm a political analyst. It's my job. But this is this is beyond everything. This is way too big. People aren't internalizing how devastating this entire thing is. And I say this entire thing. I know I'm speaking generally, but you can't underestimate how Israelis experienced what happened. And it wasn't just one day on October 7th. Every day we are hearing new stories, new details. You know, the hostages are still there. Everyday people are being killed, right? Whether in the war in Gaza and then from the first hours, if you actually think about this region in the way it is, which is one unit, where one state controls the entire region. And my state, where I'm a citizen, I pay taxes, is responsible for most of the power in the region. You can't ignore what is being done. And so I have to cope with these things emotionally, intellectually. I think that it does a disservice to everybody to ignore the suffering of the civilians in Gaza. I mean, we're up to 25,000 people who are killed now. Just as I think it does a complete intellectual disservice to ignore what happened on October 7th. And I think that the only conclusion I could come to in order to keep my own sanity and maybe humanity, is something that I think I realized for many years, but I articulated it to myself, which is that I don't really think the real division is between Israelis and Palestinians. I work too closely, and I have too many friends who are Palestinians and, you know, we have our we have our communities. We have partnerships and communities as equals. I don't mean I hire people to fix something in the House, I mean colleagues. And I think that the division is really not between these ethno national groups. It is between the people who believe in resolving their political conflicts through military force, which involves death and destruction and collateral damage, such as it may be, and justifies the civilians who will die for that approach. And the people who say we can do better. We can find political means to contain our conflicts, and we have to work together to do it. There's no way to work apart to resolve an issue, where people are living together in the same space. And I have to say that as it's really the most depressing time in my lifetime. But I think that the only conclusion I'm able to come to, is that it makes it more urgent than ever to look ahead. Find political means of containing what's going on in the region, containing the fact that two people live together in a single territorial unit. They both have national self-determination needs. They both need their national, self-determined and determination through a state. They will have to have robust cooperation, because they are essentially interdependent populations. And, you know, again, I don't want to sound moralizing, like after October 7th, we all know this. Some of us have been saying this day in, day out to the point where we can't say it anymore. Way before October 7th. So anybody who says there's not a context simply hasn't been reading my articles. Just kidding. Or anybody else's. You don't need to be an expert to know that there has been an ongoing military conflict, and that if they are not resolved, they will always escalate. It's time to solve it. It's a shame. I think it's a very tragic reality that if there is finally now movement toward some sort of political resolution to this conflict, that it will be because Hamas carried out, you know, an unconscionable terror attack on civilians, and that will be the reason why all of a sudden it becomes urgent to solve this. That is tragic. That's just not, and, you know, we're having this conversation with Armenia and Azerbaijan as well. If they were able to reach some sort of resolution, it will be partly prompted by the fact that there was this devastating, forceful assault. But if we don't start rectifying our ways of thinking about the international system, we're not going, if we don't start prioritizing reaching peace before we get to this stage, we will be in this position every time.

Misha Glenny Thank you very much, Dahlia. You've mentioned, Rula, the last three decades and you mentioned the Oslo Accords as well. Gudrun Harrer, before we consider the present and more to the point, the future, I'd like to ask you why, from those moments of real optimism in the 1990s with the Oslo Accords and even after the assassination of the Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, even that assassination didn't entirely eliminate the optimism from the process. Why do we appear to have gone so far backwards or forwards but in the wrong direction, over the past 30 years or so?

Gudrun Harrer Well, first let me say that I think we worked on different wrong assumptions in the 1990s. This was not the only one how to build the state. I mean, I remind you, it was after the end of the Soviet Union and everybody thought, okay to build a state, you do this and that and it will go well. And we also should remember that, I mean, the talk about state, of a Palestinian state for us today is absolutely natural. It's Austrian policy. It's US policy. It was not in the beginning of the Oslo process. We spoke about an entity which was to be defined, and we didn't want to recognize that there was no agreement in the 1990s what this entity would be. And not only among the radicals like Hamas, Hamas contributed highly to end the Oslo process with the terrorism wave in the 1995 and 96. By the way, it contributed to the first election victory of Netanyahu and –

Zuschauer And what about Netanyahu!

Misha Glenny She is mentioning it.

Gudrun Harrer I think I just pronounced the word, never mind. And of course, we tend to say, okay, the Oslo Declaration, Oslo Agreement, one of 93 was superficial or the process was asymmetrical, the goals were not defined. I mean, yes, but I think it was the only possibility to start it. Otherwise, if we would have to decide about the final status, there would not have been an Oslo one. So, but of course both sides, I mean, made huge mistakes. I mean, there was no agreement on the goal, you already mentioned the leadership mistakes. But what we saw afterwards and it's the only hope, that it, in a way, it went along. Without the Palestinians and this was a big mistake. But for example, if we think of the last, three, four years and the Abraham Accords, I mean, the wrong assumption and also very cynical and amoral assumption was that you can do it without the Palestinians and also against the Palestinians. But it also showed that Israel wants this process, and it also showed that we have an Arab leadership. I mean, I don't idealize this leadership. Not at all, but who is ready to bring the region into a new era and to live with Israel. And I mean in this moment, this is our only hope, I would say. But I understand also and I recognize that for many Israelis and also Israelis who in the 90s and even afterwards were pro division and a Palestinian state, now are traumatized and they say "You see what came out of Gaza?" And what's also forgotten, and I think was also a big mistake then, and we criticized it when Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005. Many, many observers and commentators including myself said, you cannot do such a thing in a unilateral way. It will backfire. Such a process must be negotiated. So, we have a lot of lessons. If these lessons can be followed up. Honestly my only hope is sometimes to think of the consequences of Yom Kippur War in 73, when Israel also was brutally surprised and really also existentially threatened. Which was not the case after October 7th. And the result was the peace process with Egypt, of course, it's different. I know it's completely different. I mean, Israel knew what they wanted with Egypt and the goals were clear. But what I stress is sometimes dynamics are developing which are not foreseeable.

Misha Glenny Rula, what's your assessment of the last 30 years? Mr. Schallenberg, would you like to come in?

Alexander Schallenberg Yes, I would like to come in because I believe there's very important points, which were said and I fully agree, we have massive failures. And I fully agree that it was probably, not probably, it was a mistake to believe or cynical even as you said, that normalization could somehow replace the Palestinian issue. We had friends in the European Union, no discussion on the Middle East since 2016. It disappeared from the international agenda. And I was a young diplomat. I was in Annapolis. We remember Madrid, we remember Oslo, we were close. We were in a Camp David. We remember a prime minister of Israel being shot because he was going forward on this peace process. And I fully agree that the biggest fear I have, and you mentioned it: That Hamas has hijacked the whole thing, and everybody is being taken hostage. The Saudis as well, the Palestinians, the Israelis. And that my hope is, and I agree, and I will talk with the Arab leaders, and on Monday for instance, we have a proposal from the European Union for the day after, which might be naive, but that's the only thing where normalization has to be part of it. But we want self-determination. We want, we stick to the two state solution, whatever state means in the concrete terms. But yes, we want self-determination. That has always been the Austrian position and the EU position. But my fear is that we have a radicalization on both sides and that the wrong people are now coming to the surface, and that it will be more problematic. But again, I as foreign minister and I'm confronted. You mentioned Armenia, Azerbaijan. We have on Monday, the foreign minister of Ukraine will be in Brussels too at our EU ministers meeting. So, the state of world affairs is dire, is critical. But I do hope, as you mentioned Yom Kippur, that sometimes out of bad situations and there's now a rethinking in capitals in the Arab world, I believe in Washington and in the European Union. And look afresh at the situation which we have neglected. Wrongly so, we have neglected it. And maybe in a long term we can find something. But in order to do so, I have to say also, if we say this is a war against all Palestinians, we have a problem. We make a differentiation between Hamas and European, which is a terrorist organization, PLO, Fatah, who are partners and the people in Palestine.

Rula Hardal Remember the whole discourse, considering that all Palestinian leaders during the 70s, 80s until Oslo actually to be considered as, according to the Israeli discourse and the European and the whole international community, to be terrorist, also. I want to remind you in ten years about our conversation now because –

Alexander Schallenberg We see the development.

Rula Hardal To consider someone, to be terrorist or a group. It's something, you know, relative.

Alexander Schallenberg But I can, you know, as long as you have somebody saying from the river to the sea. The Israelis won't disappear in thin air, the Palestinians wont disappear into thin air. I don't think.

Rula Hardal I don't agree, I don't agree, I want all people from the Jordan to the sea to be equal, individually and collectively.

Alexander Schallenberg On that we fully agree, we fully agree, we fully agree.

Rula Hardal And when you say a state, there is one kind of state we are speaking. I'm not very big fan of the whole concept of the nation state and the modern state. But in this sense, when we speak about, you say something like a kind of state, what kind of state? When we speak about the Palestinians. No, no, no, no. When we speak about the Palestinians and the Israelis, the most fundamental need and interests of the majority of the Palestinian people and the Israeli Jewish people is to live in a democratic, sovereign, independent state. There is no difference between the Palestinian state and the Israeli state we are speaking about.

Alexander Schallenberg I fully agree! What I mentioned there, what I was referring to – the ideas as far as two state solution, confederation – there are many, many proposals out there – so that's why I'm saying, we shouldn't be fixed and narrow minded as far as the solution is concerned. The key word for me is self-determination. I believe that is a thing. And equality. Absolutely, I fully agree. The thing is, how do we get there ? Now we as a European Union are proposing, putting proposals on the table and it will be together with the Egyptians, together with the Saudis. We need everybody on board. But the problem is we cannot impose it. We cannot impose peace. Okay.

Rula Hardal Because you need to impose it first of all, first of all, on the Israeli side and the Israeli government, believe me. You need also to read the, the polls, uh, the Israeli polls and, and the Palestinian polls, and you will see the differences between. I don't want to, uh, um, to draw a very romantic and, and perfect, uh, picture of the Palestinian, society, political leadership, etc. We have our problems and we have very big problems and, and especially now, at this moment. I don't know who is going actually to represent and to lead the whole establishment of the real independent, sovereign Palestinian state. We do have the people, but we have a problem with the current political leadership, and we have a problem as Palestinians to define our national project. But it's another problem. I think one of the fundamental problems that we have in implementing any kind of solution. And believe me, I don't care about solution. I do represent a political initiative, cross-border, Palestinian-Israeli, one who believes on advanced form of the two state solution with the Confederation. And we are working very hard to convince our people with this and also the international community, because we think it's the most viable, realistic, solution for the next phase. But I do care, not about solutions, about how can we start speaking another terminology, how we can implement what we are speaking about equal rights, individual and collective rights for both people? And I do believe that one of the hardest obstacles and you know, we don't have enough time to review the whole history or even the last three decades. But I do put the majority of the blame and the responsibility on the Israeli government and especially the Netanyahu governments since 2009. Who personally did everything trying to strengthen Hamas and weakening the PA. In order to prevent any possibility of renegotiating any kind of political solution. And he is doing now everything to save himself and his regime, instead of caring about the first of all, not about the people in Gaza. I don't expect from him or from his government to to think about the people in Gaza, to think about the Israeli people and mainly the Israeli hostages in Gaza. It's not his priority even. So, in doing anything and only reacting to your thoughts, how can we implement any kind of advanced two state solution or maybe confederation of a system? I think you and the international community should start from Israel in Jerusalem and in Tel Aviv and later on, later on in Ramallah and in Gaza. And I think the majority of the Palestinian people don't want anybody to decide in their name, who is going to lead the Palestinian people for the next stage, be it Hamas, be it the PLO, including Hamas and some other. Why nobody speaks, actually, about the extremists in Israel? We have criminals. We have terrorist ministers sitting in the government in Israel. Sorry. So if you want to speak about both sides, let's do the comparison. Right and equally.

Misha Glenny Rula, I'm going to come back later on both to the question of the EU and also the question of Palestinian leadership. But I'm going to address the issue of Israeli society now, by going to Dahlia and asking Dahlia. Israel has undergone a lot of changes, dramatic changes really, in the last 30 years or so, with the eclipse of the first generations of Ashkenazi Jews, so many of whom came originally from the Habsburg Empire, from Austria, indeed, from here Vienna. How have those social changes in Israel affected attitudes to the Palestinians? And does Israel retain sufficient social cohesion to navigate the challenges that it now faces?

Dahlia Scheindlin How much time do you have? First of all, I apologize for coughing. It's also, by the way, it's not totally unrelated. Just so people know when you ask the personal question, I haven't been sick twice in one season in 20 years. I mean, I think all of us are really, really suffering the effects of stress and being worn down here. So it's not totally unrelated. Um, Israeli society, first of all, the immigrants from the Middle East predate the start of statehood. They came, of course, in the big influx in the 1950s. And so I wouldn't necessarily say it's, you know, one generation of us or Ashkenazim, who have been replaced by Mizrahim. It's more complicated than that. They've certainly been part of the formation of the state of Israel from the beginning, and the tensions and the classist society and the ethno national, the ethno class tensions have been there from the beginning, overlaid with many other demographic groups. And I can talk at length about all of them because I do public opinion research among immigrants from the former Soviet Union and Palestinian citizens of Israel. And I can tell you in depth about how each one of them has affected this. But I think that the problem is, for one thing, you know, looking at it purely from a political science or public opinion level, it's not really the demographics that have affected Israeli society's attitudes towards the Palestinians. More than anything else, in survey research, the most predictive factor that determines whether people will be right, left or center is how religious they are in the Jewish community. It's very much a matter of their religious belief. It's not the only factor, because you have some people who are secular or who are pretty security oriented or nationalist and even territorial expansionist. But for the most part, the more within the Jewish community you identify yourself as religious or very religious, the more you're going to be hard line, maximalist, territorial maximalist, do not believe there is, there should be a Palestinian state and probably don't believe in the existence of Palestinian people. These kinds of attitudes that we see reflected in the kinds of parties people vote for. So, the first thing really is that you have a conflict that has very deep religious dimensions. It's not the only dimension, but it is a very critical one. And I think that touches on one of the bigger issues, which is really a big theme of my book, which is that you cannot separate those factors from the fact that Israelis consider themselves to have been building a democracy, but they have always been willing to cut corners. Compromise on aspects of democracy for the sake of the nationalist cause. Whether it's because there were religious people who wanted to build settlements, even though that meant holding another population under occupation, or whether it's because security is more important than anything, or whether it's a kind of partnership between the state and the settlers to expand settlements. The aim has always been more the nationalist aim, which has created a culture where Israelis don't really prioritize the foundations of democracy. Okay, we have a great electoral institution. But what was fascinating to me is that over the course of this year, we had the biggest assault from this government. And it's not an accident that this government was the most, you know, a theocratic, anti-democratic, illiberal government and, you know, extremists in every way and prioritize Jewish superiority not only in sovereign Israel but everywhere. Because if you read their actual government guideline document, it says that Jews have the exclusive right to self-determination in the whole area. So there's really no more, it's not about in Israel or out of Israel, but it was no accident that this kind of government did the most to undermine democratic institutions. They needed to undermine democratic institutions, particularly the judiciary, in order to carry out their plans of making Israel more theocratic, expanding the occupation permanently. Essentially annexing all of the remaining Palestinian areas as much as possible and extending Israeli permanent control without equality. If you have an independent judiciary and democratic values and anything constitutional like basic laws, which we do have, you can't do those things, or at least those things could be challenged. And so this is at the heart of this government's plans, the government was established at the end of December. And all year we had a big backlash, right? People were probably watching, when we had hundreds of thousands of people on the street. It was one of the most impressive displays of a civic uprising, completely non-violent, that I've seen in any country. And yet, to my mind, the remarkable thing was that almost nobody, except for a very small cluster of Israelis every week, but for the most part, the vast majority, 90 something percent of the people protesting on the streets never mentioned the occupation. It was shocking. And I've pulled on this, like I've asked this in survey research. Do you think there is a connection that, you know, can Israel remain democratic and continue to control Palestinians who, let's say they don't have the right to vote? It's a very easy, objective thing to ask in polls. Or will Israel cease to be democratic? I mean, you try to formulate these things in objective ways so as not to bias the respondents, and the vast majority think that it has nothing to do with Israeli democracy. And so when you say the demographics of society, yes, there are demographic leanings that are more or less in one direction. I can give you some demographic stereotypes that are upheld by survey research, but they're never quite as determinant of the political currents, as the fact that we have not really internalized what democracy truly is. At the level of the foundations, at a level of equality, of all rights, of rights for all people, anchoring these rights in law, which Israelis, to many different pockets of Israelis and different demographic communities, whether it's the ultra-Orthodox who see the true law as religious law or Palestinian citizens, Arabs and Israel who've been pushed out of systems of justice over the course of the years. Certainly in the early years, somewhat less in more recent years. I'm telling you what I see on the ground. This is how I experience the reality. And so I think that, you know, that the problem is, I think demographics is not your destiny. Right? People can be Ashkenazi or you know, Mizrahi. They can be and they can even be religious. But if they haven't internalized those values, they're not going to get to a more democratic situation. And I also think that we have to look at the leadership. This is what I was going to say before. We don't have to analyze what the Israeli government does or doesn't want. All you need to do is read what they say or listen to what they say. Netanyahu, just two days ago said: "There will never be a Palestinian state because I am the one who will remain in power and prevent it from happening. Because if it happens, that's like destruction for Israel." I mean, he says it all the time. We all have to guess, I wanted and one more, sorry, one more point, when you said we cannot impose a solution.

Alexander Schallenberg This is a point where we deeply disagree.

Dahlia Scheindlin You disagree with Netanyahu or with me?

Alexander Schallenberg No, the Israeli government.

Dahlia Scheindlin Yeah, yeah. Okay.

Alexander Schallenberg So and I want to make clear, I mean our position, no, I actually fully agree with you. Um, and but the we have. Sorry you wanted to ask a question I interrupted you.

Misha Glenny Well, it's the same. It's the same question. It's the Americans, the Europeans, the Saudis, even the Chinese and the Russians, they all say two state solution and the one, the one entity which is saying no is the Israeli government. Doesn't that put you politically, diplomatically, in a sort of cleft stick? How do you get.

Dahlia Scheindlin And Hamas.

Misha Glenny And Hamas as well. Hamas also calls it illusory. They refer to it as illusory. So you know, the two of the main factors in the, in the conflict are saying no.

Dahlia Scheindlin And can I add on to the question, please, sir, with all with great respect, I'd like to hear your answer. You said we cannot impose a solution and given the situation, but on the other hand, the High Representative, Joseph Borrell, has said that the European Union should be imposing a solution. So I'm curious.

Alexander Schallenberg I agree with you. The idea would be that we would start with this kind of peace process, if I may call it that way, without waiting until we have an agreement or even a willingness from the parties. Because if we wait, then we can wait until hell freezes over, possibly. So we would start, we would get the international actors on board. But at the end of the day, we all know you cannot impose peace. At the end of the day, you need enough smart people on both sides who are willing to go, to walk the walk. You know, and that is the problem.

+++ Unterbrechung im Publikum +++

Alexander Schallenberg Please, this is an open and free country and it means that you respect and let others talk too, okay?

+++ Unterbrechung im Publikum +++

Alexander Schallenberg And that is because with this kind of attitude, we won't get anywhere on the region and that's exactly the problem, sorry. Look at other examples we had. And because you mentioned beforehand history changes. Yes, IRA and other things. Look at Catalonia, look at Northern Ireland. So yes, things can move. And my whole work is based on the fact that we can develop. Otherwise, I mean look at the state of world affairs. I should give up tomorrow and become Chancellor again. It would be the better, easier job. No, but, um. And the thing is, and you pointed to something which is the probably the most problematic. There's a lot of emotion. Too much emotion for the time being. We need more rationality. There's too much radicalization on both sides in the Israeli society. And the 7th of October, no conflict ever on this planet has fallen out of the blue sky. Absolutely. But it cannot be a justification for progrom and massacre and rape.

Dahlia Scheindlin Sure.

Alexander Schallenberg You know, it's simply as simple as that. And we have to be extremely careful in the way we discuss that we don't give justification to what happened on the 7th of October. And we have to find reasonable people. And I believe some of them are sitting here, some are sitting here. It will take patience. It will take strategic, you know, as you say. And we have and I believe the positive thing is, everybody understood by now, we made grave mistakes, and we cannot go about the conflict the way we did. I remember I was in Annapolis myself and the speaking points we had at the time, full of hope, you know, and Condoleezza Rice engaging and Clinton engaging. I believe, and I hope that this will lead to something where in ten years, when we're looking back, we say people learned and we have moved the right way. Now that is the big hope. And I believe we all have to work together on this.

Misha Glenny Gudrun Harrer, I said at the beginning that all sorts of things are going on in the region now, in Iraq, in Syria, in Lebanon. We were talking earlier on and we were talking about news avoidance, that the events are now coming so thick and fast and that it's very stressful, even just as a consumer of news, to absorb and try and understand what's going on. Do you think that the situation in the Middle East is now definitely moving beyond Israel, Gaza and transforming itself into a more regional conflict?

Gudrun Harrer Well, let me say I'm more worried today than I was one month ago. I mean, things are really going into a very dangerous direction. I mean, we see, for example, in Tehran that obviously there is no consensus within the regime what to do. For example, when Iran attacked Pakistan, I mean Balochi, Balochi Islamist, my first thought was, I'm sure they have to have informed the Pakistani government before. No, they did not. And they did not. Otherwise, Pakistan would not retaliate back. So we get more irrational, more erratic decisions. I was also surprised yesterday by the attack on four, at least four Iranian very high Revolutionary Guards in Damascus, obviously by Israel. Uh, we see the situation deteriorating in Iraq, poor north Iraq and Kurdistan. I mean, Iran said they are hitting Islamic State and taking revenge, but they mean, uh, all the time the same thing. And have said openly, Mossad hiding in northern Iraq. So, it's escalating. And we have, of course, the Houthis, which really have proven to be the wild card of Hamas in a way. I mean, when they started to shoot the rockets and drones towards Israel, I said this can be dangerous for Israel only in the context of a wider, more border conflict. But by attacking the shipping route in the in the Red sea, I mean, they have become a global problem. And I mean, incredible PR for this group. Only there, I think, is consensus, even among the Arabs, that they are a pain in the neck by damaging, for example, the Egyptian on a daily basis, the Suez Canal. So let's say there are pragmatic forces, they are still there. We have to encourage them. I don't see anything from the Israeli side to encourage and to engage them. I mean, if Benjamin Netanyahu says he is going to kill all Amalek and he's quoting the Bible, they will listen in Egypt and say "oh perhaps it's us historically." We are still far away, but we are in a in a sensitive moment because there are forces, who want to escalate. And there are also possible dynamics, I mean, we never can think that it's possible to control such a situation. Something can happen, and the whole thing is out of control. The one hope is also that these groups like Hizbollah and we saw it, I think, quite clearly in the speeches of Hassan Nasrallah.

Misha Glenny The leader of Hizbollah.

Gudrun Harrer Also national groups, they have also Lebanese interests. Also they have to decide, are we only a weapon in the conflict and Iranian proxy? Or are we a national group which has to act also in Lebanese interests? But all open questions so I cannot, I am worried.

Misha Glenny Rula, how serious do you think the wider regional situation is at the moment?

Rula Hardal I agree with Gudrun that it's hard to have one clear opinion about the situation in the region. I think there are too many internal national interests of all of the involved parties, like Hezbollah, like the Houthi in Yemen, like Hezbollah in Iraq, Iran, etc. Egypt, Jordan, although they are not involved in a militant way. And also Israel, I think. And above all of these internal political interests, we know that all of these actors, they have their alliances with other international powers. And you know, the whole Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been influenced all the time through the history of all of these power dynamics and power shifts of or between international and regional forces. So, I do have my own perspective. I think no one of all of these regional actors are interested in expansion or of the conflict or the war, because of their interest. And I think the Palestinian issue has it's very deep, strong sentiments among the Arab world, but it's not about sentiments of the people, it's about interests. And the Palestinian question stopped since the 80s, the beginning of the 80s, to be the most significant, important issue of the Arab countries. Let's admit that, we admit that, the Palestinians. And above all of this, let's also consider Israel when we speak about the regional forces. I think Israel is a failed state now at this point. Yes, we do still have institutions, we do still have a kind of economy. But I think one of the old paradigms that has been collapsed, at October 7th is the strength of, the absolute strength of the State of Israel in terms of military, in terms of security agencies, in terms of even high tech economy etc. I think we need also to consider the situation, the very deep, real situation inside Israel when we speak about any escalation or no escalation in the region, because Israel is one of the main actors. And when we speak about internal situations or realities of the other actors in the region and in the world, we need also to look deeply on the internal side of Israel in terms of political conflicts, divisions between the political parties and forces and even between the political decision makers and the security leaders or the leaders of the security agencies. What we are seeing now during the last couple of weeks, regarding the war in Gaza Strip, so I don't think that Israel is also at at a good point when we speak about escalation in the region. At the end of the day, we are speaking all the time and we are analyzing the whole the whole situation. And we speak about escalation or no escalation, sometimes we speak about escalation in the region, and sometimes we speak about the day after and the peace, the peace process. And regarding the peace process, you know, I think that the October 7th, showed us that there is a lot of failure and collapse of the whole old paradigms. And I think one of them need also to be our terminology, how we analyze the situation between the Israelis and the Palestinians. And how, even if we speak about the two state solution, what I do support, but not the old one, the classic two state solution, which based on separation, on asymmetric equal rights between the Israelis and the Palestinians and about keeping the supremacy of the Jewish people in this whole entity of geography between the Jordan and the sea. So that's what we need. And the second point, for God's sake, before we start now analyzing the whole regional issue and the possibilities of escalation or not, as long as the Israeli war in Gaza Strip continues, we are enhancing actually the possibility for any regional escalation. The war in Gaza Strip is not about defending Israel. It's not about self-defense of of the state of Israel or the Jewish population. It's a crime against the Palestinian people and it has to be stopped immediately. Even if we speak about a bigger war in the region. And this is the first point that all of us need to emphasize all the time, when we speak about peace and the day after and even when we speak about regional war or regional escalation.

Misha Glenny Thank you. Rula. We will soon be coming to the end of our time. But I want to pick up one point that you mentioned, Minister, about the European Union. You said that basically the EU has taken its eye off the ball since about 2015, 2016. When you look at the diplomatic actors actively engaged in trying to bring about a resolution or to bring about hostage exchange, humanitarian aid into the, into Gaza and so on, we're looking at the US, we're looking at Saudi Arabia, we're looking at Egypt, we're looking at Qatar. The European Union is really nowhere to be seen in terms of active diplomatic engagement. When is Europe going to engage with us?

Alexander Schallenberg I would say, and I wanted to say I fully agree with your statement beforehand. I can tell you that many very serious people are working behind the scenes very intensively to de-escalate, because the more the conflict drags on, the more there's a risk of an escalation, obviously. And what we need now is a sustained ceasefire and the release of all hostages. That would be the way forward and then bring in enough sufficient humanitarian aid and so on. As far as the role of the European Union is concerned, I believe it was already overstated in the 90s to a certain degree. We found and we have more consensus among the 27 member states and people actually believe on many points as far as the Middle East is concerned. And I'm very, very welcoming, actually, that we come now forward with this ten point plan. It's more than ten points, actually, but that's what the media call it. But there is an acknowledgement and I think that is very important and that's the difference to the 90s. At the time, if you look at Oslo and so on, it was basically the West trying to get its way of finding a solution. Now our approach is we need local regional actors. They have to step in. We do the same with Africa. When we said African solutions for African problems. We want to talk with Ecuador. We're doing now the same thing and we're meeting on Monday at the council will be the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia, of Jordan, Egypt, obviously the Israeli and the Palestinian too, but also the Secretary-General of the Arab League. And I believe this is the right way of going about it to have regional actors, who are the first implicated by the situation, to take a leading role. And that's the difference to the processes we had 20 years ago and I believe it's a sensible process. So, I wouldn't say the European Union has to come up with, where ist the European Union? Not even the US, the United States, can on themselves offer solutions for everything. And I can tell you, Tony Blinken is working incredibly hard to find solutions. So let's be just and say everybody is trying to find solutions. What we need most is local actors to be ready to go this way. And that's what I said about at the long run. Imposing won't work, never worked in history. And we need local regional actors like Saudi Arabia, like Jordan and they're working closely together with Israel on the West Bank till now. Egyptians are working closely together. It's not as black and white as it would seem in the media. There are constant talks, there are constant contacts between the neighbors and that's necessary. As long as this takes place, I'm hopeful. As long as you don't have the lunatics taking over on every side. And there are enough in the region, there are enough on this planet, we have seen it. As long as this is not the case, then I'm hopeful that we might find the right way out.

Misha Glenny Thank you. We have we have very little time left. So I'm going to ask for a brief summation from all of our panelists. I know it's very difficult to do it briefly, but nonetheless to wind up our debate. And I will start with Gudrun Harrer if I may?

Gudrun Harrer Well, I mean, I didn't understand from the beginning why we cannot really be absolutely shocked and appalled by what happened on October 7th. I mean, it was incredible. It was style Russian pogroms, Tsarist in the 19th century. And also by the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza who live under this regime and who tried just to live. So for me both the positions don't contradict each other. What's also been discussed, I am sometimes really shocked that we did not go very far in the last three months. No, we still exactly have the same questions for the Israeli offensive in Gaza, like in mid-October. All of us said it's very difficult to eradicate the ideology of such a movement. It will radicalize further people in the Gaza Strip and no political solution inside. For example, also the solution how can a Palestinian leadership look like? I mean we mentioned it, we don't have any, you know, and we also don't see any movement there. So yes, it's a dire situation. I mean, I'm sorry that I cannot conclude on a more hopeful position. It's also quite hard to talk with somebody shouting in the background.

Misha Glenny Thank you Gudrun for doing it nonetheless. Dahlia?

Gudrun Harrer Thank you.

Dahlia Scheindlin I do think that it is, we have no choice but to have to look at this as an opportunity to move ahead with a more serious effort for political resolution in the future. Like Rula, I think that we cannot go back to the old ideas that have failed to be implemented or materialized or agreed upon all those years. The idea of two states based on a hard partition and an international border is fundamentally illiberal. It is based on ethno nationalist segregation. It will never be implemented. Israel has spread, nevermind, I mean you know, I don't want to go into all the reasons. But I do support two states to fulfill the two national self-determination claims and needs of both people in an open, cooperative relationship, in a confederated arrangement that I think is more realistic and appropriate. I we have no choice but to look at this as an opportunity to move ahead with this stuff. Like I said, it's unfortunate that it's happening as a result of this devastating violence, but I think that we have to also remember that the reason why I support this kind of approach is not just arbitrary. The fact is that the two peoples of this region are interdependent. They are interdependent. They live very close to one another. They live intertwined with one another. They are economically interdependent. They are interdependent in terms of climate, something that I hope people here care about as well. Health, epidemiology, economy I may have already said, and security. And they will never be completely separate and their problems will never be completely separate. And what happens in Gaza, okay, I hate to say it like this, but I think we have to also realize, I mean, Israelis have failed to realize that the devastation in Gaza, the complete destruction not only of 25,000 people killed and maybe 7000 more, you know, buried, missing. The complete devastation of cities, infrastructure, hospitals is leading to such a devastating situation there that it will affect Israelis too. I it feels troubling to have to remind people that there is a matter of self-interest for Israelis here, because everybody should be outraged morally at the attack on the civilian population of Gaza. But this is also the reality. And so I want to make one last point. It's not just that the two populations are interdependent. They are. But the idea of a long term political resolution cannot happen until there's a ceasefire, because think of all the conditions we need to put into place, very difficult conditions to achieve. Palestinian leadership and society needs to be rehabilitated. Israelis, if I had my way, we need to change our government. But remember, for those of you who are shouting, get rid of Netanyahu, Israel is a sovereign state. Nobody can do that for Israelis. So we need to have very serious internal conversations about where the country is going. We need to begin, I mean you know, the level of destruction in Gaza is so vast and in the West Bank now, we have, of course, severe closure and economic difficulties, these things will take years to do, in order to have the conditions in place where we can move towards final status. But we will never get the parties to agree on the conditions of a ceasefire, because nobody is calling for a unilateral, unconditional ceasefire. Ceasefire must mean release of hostages, which will mean release of Palestinian prisoners. It must mean withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, which will require security guarantees and hopefully some sort of disarmament of Hamas. All of these things will never happen. Nobody will ever agree to them, unless there is a long term vision for the final status political resolution, so that Palestinians know they're not just making concessions for nothing, and Israelis know that they are not able to continue this expansionist program forever.

Misha Glenny Rula?

Rula Hardal I will start with saying that I agree. I agree with a majority of things that my friend Dahlia says, but especially the last point that even when we speak about ceasefire now and a kind of protection also for the Palestinian people in the West Bank, from the settlers and the violence of the IDF. I agree with her that we need to do that as part of a political vision that should be clear and mainly for the Palestinian people. It should be clear, the frame time that we are speaking about and the second point in this regard that I won't make the linkage between the hostages, the Israeli hostages and the ceasefire. I think Israel knows that and I mentioned that before, Israel knows very well from self-experience, there is no, and even now during the last months, there is no possibility to release any hostages by, by using much more force. So I think this is something that even the people and the families of the hostages started to understand that there is something suspicious in the decision making in this government. I would like to see all hostages, from a very basic human perspective, coming back to their families, to their lives were they still alive. And I think it is first and foremost responsibility of the Israeli government and nobody else, to release them and to bring them back home, in negotiations, because Israel is trying actually, since three months to bring them by bombing Gaza and it doesn't work. So if it doesn't work, the Israeli government should try the other way, where we also saw that other way when we had temporary ceasefire and negotiations and hostage.

Misha Glenny Hostage exchange.

Rula Hardal Exactly. So, this is one point. The second point I want to say to the friends here who supports Palestine, maybe the majority of them are Palestinians or not. I'm glad about all support for Palestine. However, I would like to say something. We are in Palestine, Israel on the ground. We have enough hate and mistrust and difficult feelings. We really need maybe a kind of further support. And I would like to suggest for all of you to go out from this binary way of thinking about the whole situation and of support. Please support the right of both people to live in dignity and in safety and in equality. And the last point I would. I will make it very the last point.

Zuschauerin Human Rights for all!

Misha Glenny Good then we're all agreed on that.

Rula Hardal The last point. And I will make it very short. It looks like or it seems that now that the situation is very difficult. We are not naive. Especially we, the people who come, come from this place, from Israel, Palestine. We are not naive and we know that the way is going to be long, difficult and complicated. But we don't have the privilege and we don't have the luxury not to imagine a better future for both people and not to imagine a solution for this situation. Even if we know, any solution, even if it's going to be difficult, long, complicated, it's better than the situation now. And I would encourage all of you to support both people in your way to start imagining, going out from this bad situation and imagining a better future for both people. Again, according to the principles that I keep mentioning in this regard. Thank you.

Misha Glenny Thank you Rula. Minister Schallenberg, a final word. You mentioned earlier on the poly crisis, the fact that everything just comes on top of. Do we have the diplomatic, the political capacity and intelligence to really use this disaster that's going on in Gaza, Israel, the Middle East, do we have the capacity to overcome it?

Alexander Schallenberg I deeply believe so. We do, there are enough people engaged, smart people who really are there fully with all the powers and with the intellectual capacities. But as I said at the beginning, we need partners on the ground. We need people to understand that. And I want to finish with a positive note, a very personal one. On the 7th of October, I was called by our services and they asked me, how good are your nerves, Minister? And unluckily I said, they're good. And I received videos and pictures which will haunt me for the rest of my life. A degree of cruelty which already in a region which has never been poor in cruelty, it's Middle Ages progrome, which is shocking. And then regardless, two weeks ago or three weeks ago, there was one of the hostages which was freed, Jewish lady, she was here in Vienna, and she said, we have to find a way to live together. And as long as we have people like that, who have been taken hostage, who have suffered, who have lost members of their family but still say we have to find a way where Israelis and Palestinians can live in dignity and peace next to each other. As long as that is the case, I'm hopeful that we will find a way to achieve it.

Misha Glenny Thank you very much, Minister. We have overrun our time. Thank you all for coming here. I think we've demonstrated that to an extent we can still have a rational and forward looking conversation about what is undoubtedly one of the greatest challenges that we face here on Earth. Thank you all very much for coming. And please join me in thanking Gudrun Harrer, Dahlia Scheindlin, Rula Hardal and Alexander Schallenberg.

Alexander Schallenberg And Misha Glenny.

Zuschauer Ceasefire now! Ceasefire now!


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Gibt es eine Friedensperspektive in Nahost?

Auftakt unserer Diskussionsreihe EUROPA IN DISKURS: Am Sonntag, 21. Jänner, diskutierten Politkwissenschaftlerin Rula Hardal, Nahostexpertin Gudrun Harrer, Außenminister Alexander Schallenberg und Politikberaterin Dahlia Scheindlin.
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