June 24, 2024
10:00 am - 11:00 am


Zoom Webinar



For More Information

Programs Department
202-785-1141 ext. 202

To help end the war in Gaza and facilitate a pathway to an Israeli-Palestinian two-state solution, the United States developed a special package of regional initiatives. A key component of this package is apparently Israeli-Saudi normalization, which is seen as a potentially major incentive for Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking.
The Arab Peace Initiative linked the prospect of Israeli-Arab diplomatic rapprochement to the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict more than 20 years ago. Since then, Israel signed normalization agreements with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Morocco, hoping that its next major regional achievement would be to establish diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia. But in the absence of any significant progress on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and particularly following the breakout of the current war in Gaza, normalization with Riyadh has become that much more difficult to achieve, as the Saudi government conditions normalization with Israel on genuine and irreversible steps toward a two-state solution. At a time when skepticism in post-Oct. 7 Israel toward the two-state solution is at its peak, can the prospect of normalization with Saudi Arabia provide sufficient incentive to alter public preferences and official policies? And more specifically, can Israeli-Saudi normalization be a game-changer in Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking efforts?
The Middle East Institute webinar will bring together Israeli and Arab experts to discuss these and related questions. Moreover, the panelists will seek to identify conditions under which such an incentive structure can be most effective by drawing lessons from previous attempts to utilize third-party inducements in the Middle East peace process.


Asher Kaufman
John M. Regan, Jr. Director, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame

Nimrod Goren
Senior Fellow for Israeli Affairs, Middle East Institute

Aziz Alghashian
Fellow, American Gulf States Institute in Washington; Sectarianism, Proxies, & De-sectarianisation Project

Michal Yaari
Lecturer, Hebrew University; Ben Gurion University; Open University

Huda Abuarquob
Peacebuilding Specialist; Conflict Transformation Expert; 1325 UNSCR Women, Peace, and Security Advisor

Detailed Speaker Biographies

Prof. Asher Kaufman is professor of history and peace studies. His region of expertise is the modern Middle East with a particular focus on Lebanon, Israel, and Syria. Kaufman’s research interests include the history and legacy of nationalism and colonialism in the Middle East, border conflicts and dynamics, and the interplay between memory, history, and violence. His current research project examines the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the consequent 18-year occupation of South Lebanon from 1982 to 2000. 

Dr. Nimrod Goren is the Senior Fellow for Israeli Affairs at the Middle East Institute. Goren is the President and Founder of Mitvim - The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies, Co-Founder of Diplomeds - The Council for Mediterranean Diplomacy. He holds a Ph.D. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, focusing on incentives for peace, and was a Hubert Humphrey Fellow at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. He was a Teaching Fellow on Middle Eastern Studies at the Hebrew University and is a past recipient of the Victor J. Goldberg Prize for Peace in the Middle East and the Centennial Medal of the Institute of International Education. Goren is a member of the International Dialogue Initiative, the Geneva Initiative, and the Turkish-Israeli Civil Society Forum.

Dr. Aziz Alghashian is a Saudi researcher who is fascinated with the elusive nature of Saudi foreign policy. He obtained a PhD in 2019 from the University of Essex, where he taught International Relations, Politics, and Middle Eastern Studies for several years. Currently, Alghashian’s research focuses on Saudi policy toward Israel and Arab-Israeli relations more broadly. His research aims to highlight the rich history of Saudi-Israeli/Arab-Israeli pragmatism. Implicit and tacit forms of cooperation and communication are core themes within his research. In addition to research and teaching, he has provided commentary to news outlets, including France24, Sky, BBC, Forces TV, The New York Times, and Bloomberg.

Dr. Michal Yaari is an expert on the Gulf states and a lecturer at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, and the Open University of Israel. She is also an advisor to various organizations and a commentator in the Israeli and international media. Yaari’s research areas include Saudi Arabia and its relations with Israel as well as civilian issues related to the Arab world (women’s status, sports and politics in the Middle East, climate, and more).

Huda Abuarquob is a dedicated advocate for peace and conflict transformation, with a strong background in social change education, feminist inclusive political activism, and Track II diplomacy. She recently served as the regional director of the Alliance for Middle East Peace (ALLMEP), playing a crucial role in coordinating over 170 civil society organizations. Abuarquob is a well-known speaker on Middle East politics, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the power of narratives, including those of competing victimhood and liberation. Abuarquob’s dedication to justice and peacebuilding earned her the prestigious Laudato Si’ Prize in December 2017. She resides in Dura – Hebron and takes pride in her role as the oldest of 12 children, born into a family of a long line of well-known Palestinian educators, politicians, and activists.



 (Photo by EVELYN HOCKSTEIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)