Ambassador Mark Sofer, Deputy Director-General of the Asia and the Pacific Division of Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was the guest speaker at the Mabini Dialogue on “The Middle East Peace Process” held last 4 February 2015 at the Carlos P. Romulo Library, FSI.
According to Ambassador Sofer, the stability of the Middle East is very important to the stability of the international arena. The apparent lack of dialogue among the stakeholders in the Middle East conflict has resulted in a “terrible” situation in the Arab world today. The Oslo Accords played a crucial role in the advancement of negotiations between Israel and Palestine because it established the idea of a Jewish-Palestinian state existing side by side. The Oslo Accords have made a significant effect on the geopolitical landscape of the Middle East. However, the ideological disagreements between different Palestinian factions and the inability of Palestinian leaders to make historic and necessary decisions hampered the realization of a two-state solution put forward by the Oslo Accords.
Today, the Arab-Israeli conflict is no longer the central issue in the Middle East, according to Ambassador Sofer. It is the rise of non-state actors perpetuating hatred and extremism that carry the greatest threat against the region. He described the situation in Syria as a “humanitarian tragedy” and further cited the attacks by ISIS as bestial and inhumane. The current challenge in the Middle East is the thinking that promotes hatred, death, and murder.
On Philippine-Israeli relations, Ambassador Sofer described the bilateral relations as one that has always been excellent and based on cooperation and acknowledged that the relations can be further strengthened and expanded.
The lecture was attended by officers and staff of the Department, as well as Foreign Service Posts (FSPs) through the FSI webcast.