June 2017 marks 50 years of Israeli control over the West Bank. Recent surveys show that a majority of Israelis support peace negotiations with the Palestinians and the majority of Israeli Jews believe Israel should not annex large parts of the territories. Nevertheless, the Israeli government continues to expand settlements and is considering legislation to annex land in the West Bank.
What motivates and enables the Israeli government to continue settlement expansion in the West Bank? What are the implications for the future of peace and Israel's long-term democratic survival?
The Middle East Institute hosted a conversation about settlements with Talia Sasson, president of the New Israel Fund (NIF), former state attorney and special advisor to the late Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and author of At the Edge of the Abyss: Is the Victory of the Settlements the End of Israeli Democracy? Haaretz's Washington correspondent Amir Tibon moderated the discussion.
Talia Sasson is president of the NIF and chair of its board. Sasson served as a special legal advisor to the government of Israel from August 2004 to March 2005 at the request of then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. In that capacity, she authored the Sasson Report on illegal outposts and law enforcement on Israelis in the West Bank. Sasson served for 25 years at the state attorney's office and headed the civil department in the office of the district attorney of Jerusalem. Sasson is the author of At the Edge of the Abyss: Is the victory of the settlements the end of Israeli democracy? which was published in Hebrew in 2015. She serves on the public councils of numerous peace and human rights organizations. In 2009, she ran for the Knesset as a candidate of The New Movement & Meretz.
Amir Tibon, Moderator
Washington Correspondent, Haaretz Newspaper
Amir Tibon is an Israeli journalist, currently the Washington, D.C. correspondent for Haaretz Newspaper. From 2013 to 2016, he was the diplomatic correspondent for Walla News, one of the largest news websites in Israel. His writings on Israel and the region have appeared in The Atlantic, Foreign Affairs, The New Yorker, Politico Magazine, The Huffington Post, The American Interest, Tablet Magazine and The New Republic. An article he co-authored in 2014 about the latest round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks was nominated in the U.S. for a National Magazine Award. His first book, a biography of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, will be published in July 2017.