Dr. Hirschfeld will provide an insider account on the reasons why Secretary Kerry’s Peace Initiative for the Middle East failed, and will discuss why a less ambitious effort would have prevented the foreseeable break-down of negotiations. Hirschfeld will argue that the definition of peace, as such, is decisive for a successful outcome. It has to be understood that “peace is not a piece of paper, or a given moment, but an ongoing process, when former enemies learn gradually to trust each other.” Based on this basic understanding Hirschfeld will describe the causes that permitted the successful conclusion of the Oslo Accords, and the dramatic inside story, that caused later failures and set-backs. Hirschfeld will analyze the importance and problems of US mediation, of other inputs of the international community, as well as the impact of the regional powers, and particularly the ongoing struggle between radical militant Islamic state- and non-state actors, with the pragmatic pro-Western Arab states and Israel.
Yair Hirschfeld is world-known due to his leading role in preparing and negotiating the Oslo Accord of September 13, 1993. In the early 1980s, Hirschfeld organized the confidential dialogue between Shimon Peres and Yossi Beilin with the Palestinian leadership from the West Bank and Gaza. In 1991 he prepared a strategic study which defined the principles and structure of what would become the Oslo Accord. In January 1993 Hirschfeld led the track with two negotiations with the Palestinian leadership, and later became an official member of the Israeli negotiating team with the PLO. Dr. Hirschfeld has founded, together with Dr. Beilin the Economic Cooperation Foundation, an Israeli think- and do- tank, which has served all Israeli governments and prepared strategy concepts for promoting the Israeli-Palestinian and the wider Israeli-Arab peace-finding process. Dr. Hirschfeld is a professor of Middle Eastern History, and a leading expert on Conflict Resolution and the technique of track-two negotiations.