How President Obama Can Promote Israeli-Palestinian Peace

[Washington Institute for Near East Policy] David Pollock, Editor - The Near-Term Focus for Israeli-Palestinian Peacemaking - Dennis Ross: As the Bush Administration winds to its conclusion, the objective of achieving a permanent-status agreement for the Israelis and Palestinians looks like a distant dream. The parties have discussed the core permanent-status issues, narrowing the gaps on borders and identifying and distilling their differences on Jerusalem and refugees. There remains a very wide conceptual divide on security, with Israelis believing that they must retain freedom of action in the West Bank even after an agreement, and the Palestinians believing that no Israeli soldiers should remain after a Palestinian state emerges. * Banging Square Pegs into Round Holes - Dore Gold: Throughout 2008, U.S. mediation on the outlines of a settlement were once again the equivalent of banging a square peg into a round hole: the territorial demands of the Palestinian leadership did not fit into the territorial space Israel could afford to vacate without compromising its minimal security needs as well as its most important historical rights, especially in Jerusalem. Indeed, at the time of the Annapolis summit, a strong consensus still prevailed among Israelis for keeping Jerusalem united, according to public opinion polls. * Is the Two-State Solution Still Viable? - Giora Eiland: The maximum that any government in Israel can offer the Palestinians and survive politically is less - much less - than the minimum that any possible Palestinian government can accept and survive politically. And the gap between both sides is big, much bigger than the way it is perceived. Contrary to other perceptions, the gaps became wider rather than narrower over the past eight years. * Rules for Engagement in Palestinian Political Affairs - Mohammad Yaghi: Despite Fatah's weakness, the suggestion that it could be easily replaced by Prime Minister Salam Fayad's Third Way movement is an overly optimistic reading of the Palestinian political landscape. It is highly doubtful that he could survive politically without Fatah's support. In light of these problems, the Obama administration should prioritize efforts to facilitate the reform and renewal of Fatah's leadership. * Setting U.S. Policy toward Hamas - Barry Rubin: There is a critical, simple principle that should be the basis of U.S. policy toward Hamas: the group is an enemy of the United States, and its interests are directly contrary to America's. Consequently, Washington's strategy should be to weaken Hamas, deny it success, and disrupt its ability to make military or diplomatic gains. * Conclusion: Next Steps toward Peace - David Pollock: Even if there is not much hope of quick success or much linkage to other regional issues, many of the authors believe that further talks could help avert even worse short-term outcomes - provided there is no stampede to an unworkable deal. Another theme is that Hamas is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

2008-12-24 06:00:00

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