This was an hour long debate I hosted this evening between Mark Regev, the Israeli Ambassador to the UK, and his Palestinian counterpart, Manual Hassassian. I had interviewed them separately back in July and asked if they would debate each other. Somewhat to my surprise they both agreed without any pre-conditions. My aim was to have an hour of conversation rather than heated debate. I wanted to avoid any histrionics on either side and to try to explore what the two sides have in common, as well as what divides them.
I urged people right from the beginning to try to put aside their own prejudices and beliefs and I hope I did that myself. Looking at the social media reaction, it seems I succeeded in that as no one has accused me of being biased towards one side or the other – that must be a first!
I’m really proud of what we did in this hour. I’m told it was the first time that an official representative of the Israeli government and an official representative of the PLO had debated each other in this way. I was delighted to see them shake hands at the end. Symbolically it was important.