Archive for December 2006

Secretary Rice Readying for Peace Push?

December 28, 2006

At the behest of Secretary Rice, the State Department may be preparing several options for consideration to restart the peace process, according to a report published in Yedioth Aranoth.  U.S. Ambassadors to the region and Security Coordinator General Keith Dayton reportedly attended a recent seminar that lasted several days in which the discussions were devoted to devising a new U.S. Middle East policy that would be implemented in the remainder of President Bush’s term.  An interim Palestinian state was the most notable proposal reported, but was among several ideas supposedly bandied about under the theme of strengthening President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah Party and weakening Hamas.  The goal of each proposal was to end with talks between President Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert that would lead to a referendum in the Palestinian Territories and a state within temporary borders.  Watch out for the days surrounding January 13, the report said, when Secretary Rice returns to the region.  Her staff is expected to precede her so as to lay out the ideas to the two leaders prior to hearing about them from the Secretary.  The full report may be found here.

Leaders from 3 Major Religions Join Together in Calling for Peace to Be a Priority

December 26, 2006

On December 12th, an impressive list of Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders – many of whom are CALME luminaries – joined voices to call for renewed US leadership to pursue peace in the Middle East.  In  “Arab-Israeli-Palestinian Peace: From Crisis to Hope,” these religious leaders urge the United States to exercise its “unique role” in the world to pursue a peaceful two-state solution:

“The unique role of the United States in the region and in the world gives our nation a special responsibility to pursue peace. The United States must make peace in the Middle East an urgent priority. Achieving Arab-Israeli-Palestinian peace will have positive reverberations in the region and around the world. Our nation and the world will be much safer if peace takes hold in the Middle East.”

Full release is after the jump. (more…)

Hagel Agrees with ISG – Solving Israel-Palestine of Critical Importance to the Region

December 26, 2006

In a speech delivered shortly after the release of the Iraq Study Group’s report, Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) echoed the sentiments expressed by the report’s authors of Israeli-Palestinian conflict’s relevance to the tensions across the region.

He said, “Just as our strategy on Iraq requires a regional context, America’s occupation of Iraq has deep and wide implications for our position in the Middle East. This is another point that was made in the Baker-Hamilton Commission report. They spoke of the need to engage Syria and Iran and renew a focused commitment to a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

“In the Middle East, the core of instability and conflict is the underlying Arab-Israeli problem. Progress on Middle East peace does not ensure stability in Iraq. But, for the Arab world, the issue of Middle East peace is inextricably, emotionally and psychologically linked with all other issues. Until the United States helps lead a renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace process, there will be no prospect for broader Middle East peace and stability. It is in America’s vital interest that the President engage our Middle East and international partners to restart a Middle East peace process that will have the confidence of Arabs and Israelis. Processes are important and our lack of attention to this reality has crippled much of our efforts in the Middle East since 9/11…

“I believe America is coming dangerously close to isolating itself in the Muslim world. If we continue to lose our political capital with the Muslim world, we will lose our credibility, trust and ability to lead a renewed Middle East peace process and see a further erosion in East-West relations. We may be on a very precipitous course toward an East-West collision. A Judeo-Christian/Muslim split would inflame the world.”

To read his full speech, please click here.

An Act of Courage

December 20, 2006

Robert Novak’s column of December 18th held out a strong prescription amid the  almost deafening flak surronding the release of the ISG report.  He argues that the definitive act of President Bush’s final two years in office needs to be a a serious Middle East peace policy.

 “The Baker-Hamilton report and Hagel’s speech each reiterated the truth that there is no chance whatsoever for essential Israeli-Palestinian peace without American brokerage. The Israeli ruling class and its U.S. outriders do not want that to happen, which explains the bitter opposition to the commission’s recommendations. It would be an act of courage for George W. Bush to risk an assault from these forces, and it is a central decision of his last two years. ”

 Full article after the jump. (more…)

Connecting Iraq to the Imperative of Two States

December 15, 2006

Despite the current rumbles about the ISG report’s linking the challenges in Iraq to the need to bring about peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, President Bush made a similar statement when he appeared before the press with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki last month. 

He said, “Well, first of all, there’s no question that if we were able to settle the Palestinian-Israeli issue, it would help bring more peace to the Middle East. And therefore, our government is focused on helping develop the two-state solution. As a matter of fact, I was the — our government strongly believes in the two-state solution, and I believe it’s in the Palestinian people’s interest that they have their own state. And I believe it’s in Israel’s interest that there be a democracy on her border. And therefore, we’re working to that end. ”

As the President develops his new strategy for Iraq, we hope he will keep this point — one that he has previously made — in mind, and will actively work toward that end.

Internal Affairs

December 13, 2006

CALME Luminary Dennis Ross is counselor and Ziegler distinguished fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and author of The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace.   In the following article, Ross argues not just for a cease fire in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but a true international movement toward a two state solution:

“We ought to try to cement a real — not flimsy and vague — cease-fire between Israelis and Palestinians; or push for a national referendum among Palestinians to clarify where they stand on peace and to build a mandate for a new Palestinian government to pursue it; or reestablish an international consensus on the principles of a credible two-state solution at a time when Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas reject the basic terms of co-existence.”

Full article after the jump. (more…)

Former SecDef Calls for Peace Talks, Two State Solution

December 11, 2006

Gulf News
December 11, 2006 Monday

CALME Luminary Secretary William S. Cohen, former Secretary of Defense, supports ISG recommendation for peace talks in the Middle East.

COHEN BACKS BAKER REPORT ON PEACE TALKS

A former US defence secretary yesterday said he fully agreed with the recommendation in the Baker-Hamilton report to help revive peace talks in the Middle East.

“I am well aware that it is part of the dilemma here, but I see that the population cannot be supportive of the US because they are angry. I have long supported the two-state solution and I believe that the Palestinians need to live in dignity and welfare and that the Israelis also need security,” William Cohen told Gulf News on the sidelines of the three-day Manama Dialogue. (more…)