January 2006

Analysis will be dedicated over the coming days to the significance of Wednesday’s Palestinian legislative elections and what they herald for the Middle East conflict. But that spectacle and Hamas’ starring role in it have overshadowed a far more important drama playing out in the wings. Barely anyone has remarked on the unfolding events at the Herzliya Conference, Israel’s most important annual policy-making jamboree. This week politicians, businessmen, generals, academics and journalists converged on the exclusive seaside resort of Herzliya, near Tel Aviv, to share their thoughts on the country’s central concern, as expressed in the conference’s title: “The balance of national strength and security in Israel.” Based on past form, the discussions and speeches are revealing more about the direction of Israeli policy over the next year than all the Knesset debates, Cabinet meetings and press conferences put together.