May 27, 2016
WASHINGTON, D.C. – History was made at the 2016 Weinberg Founders Conference when Saudi Arabia’s Prince Turki al-Faisal, longtime head of the Kingdom’s intelligence agency, met with Israel’s former National Security Advisor, Maj. Gen. (Res.) Yaakov Amidror. Witnessing the extraordinary dialogue were 400 Trustees and policymakers, as well as 50 journalists, including reporters from the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. More than 65,000 people around the globe viewed the event online.
The Amidror-Turki conversation, moderated by Institute Executive Director Robert Satloff, was a high point in a conference that started with a reception at the official residence of French Ambassador Gérard Arnaud and concluded with an off-the-record discussion with a leading American defense planner. Trustees immersed themselves in discussions with Institute experts on the key policy issues on the U.S. Middle East agenda, including the war on ISIS, the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal, the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and much more. View photos here.
Amidror and Turki shared a common concern over Iran’s role in the Middle East, especially following the nuclear agreement, and they expressed a preference for a strong American presence in the region. They diverged on the path forward for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The Amidror-Turki conversation, the only on-the-record session, was widely covered in the media.
The Institute Board of Trustees chose longtime leader Shelly Kassen as the organization’s new president. Shelly, a businesswoman with a Harvard MBA who served eight years as a Westport, CT, selectman, paid tribute to her predecessor, Richard Abramson, who passed away in January 2016. The Institute remembered Mr. Abramson in a short film.
Ms. Kassen reminded Weinberg Conference participants that the Institute was founded to pursue America’s core interests in the Middle East – especially the pursuit of real security and real peace. “Breaking down barriers to achieve those common interests has been one of our hallmarks,” she said. And, referring to the Israeli-Saudi conversation, she added, “Tonight we break another barrier.”
The next national Institute conference, the Soref Symposium, will be held Monday-Wednesday, May 8-10, 2017 at the Mandarin Oriental in Washington, D.C.
About the Washington Institute: The Washington Institute is an independent, nonpartisan research institution funded exclusively by U.S. citizens that seeks to advance a balanced and realistic understanding of American interests in the Middle East and to promote the policies that secure them. Drawing on the research of its fellows and the experience of its policy practitioners, the Institute promotes informed debate and scholarly research on U.S. policy in the region.
Media Contact: Ian Byrne, 202-452-0650, [email protected]