Archive for February 2007

Does Rejecting the Mecca Accord Give Hamas a Veto Over the Peace Process?

February 27, 2007

In yesterday’s Haaretz, long-time columnist Akiva Eldar chastises the U.S. for effectively blocking peace talks between Israel and Syria, and potentially Israel and the Palestinians.  He says, “If Syria is the enemy of Middle East peace, then perpetuation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should be considered a handsome consolation prize for Damascus. And why would Hamas, which is bending over backwards not to recognize Israel’s right to exist, want to remove the obstacles to such an arrangement? If the U.S. and its Quartet partners, not to mention the Israeli government, truly want to bypass Hamas on the road to the final- status agreement, then why are they granting it veto power over the peace process?”

He explains his logic, and argument for pursuing peace now with both the Syrians and Palestinians in his article, which follows the jump.  He also highlights an important forthcoming date in Mecca that will force Hamas to either accept the existence of Israel, or turn against its Arab brethren.  That will be a meeting to watch.



“This Time is Qualitatively Different” — Indyk

February 26, 2007

In an in-depth interview with the Council on Foreign Relations, CALME luminary Martin Indyk provided some insight into how Secretary Rice’s recent trilateral summit did mark a significant change for this Administration’s involvement in the pursuit of two states. 

He said, “These talks are qualitatively different from anything that she or the Bush administration has done before. And that’s for two reasons. One is that she has committed herself to a discussion between Abu Mazen and Olmert about the framework for a final status agreement, or what she calls a ‘political horizon.’ And what Rice is doing is discussing—not negotiating—what a future Palestinian state would look like. Now, that is different from anything the Bush administration has done in its previous six years in office because they absolutely refused to have any ‘political horizon’ in any of the things that they’ve produced. So, for instance, the ‘Road Map’ talks about a two-state solution as a final objective but gives no details about what that final agreement would look like. This is an attempt by her to give greater granularity to the president’s vision of an independent, democratic Palestinian state living alongside Israel.

“The second thing is that she has committed to a sustained engagement. One of the things she said at the end of her remarks on Sunday was that ‘I will be back shortly.’ And she has said elsewhere that she’s going to be coming back once a month. That’s qualitatively different because the Bush administration has never had a sustained engagement in peacemaking on the Israeli-Palestinian front. They talked a good game but always walked away from any kind of sustained engagement. ”

To read the full interview, please click here.

Opportunity for Action: June 5th Initiative for Peace

February 23, 2007

This alert comes from the IPCRI:

June 5 2007 will mark 40 years since the June 1967 war. On June 5 the “march for Israeli-Palestinian peace” will take place in cities and towns throughout the world in solidarity with the people of Israel and Palestine who will march, demonstrate and organize for Israeli-Palestinian peace throughout Israel and Palestine. Several main events will be held in key cities such as Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Ramallah, Nablus, Gaza, Washington, New York, Chicago, Athens, Paris, Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt, London, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, Moscow, Rome, Amman, Cairo, Tokyo, and others.

The call for Israeli-Palestinian peace based on the “two-states for two peoples” formula and for ending the conflict will be the uniting force that will bring out millions of people across the globe. (more…)

Strengthening Abbas Will be Linked to Progress

February 23, 2007

CALME Luminary MJ Rosenberg published this article as this week’s IPF Friday.

Washington DC, February 23, 2007
Issue # 312

One State, Two States.  Do I Hear Three?

A few weeks ago I participated in a panel on the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  The panel consisted of a Palestinian-American spokesman and me.  The two of us have been teamed up before although we tend not to disagree on very much.  In other words, no fireworks.

Both of us support the two-state solution and, although there are differences between us on some of the issues that divide the two sides, they are minor compared to our agreement on the central issue.

My “job” was fairly easy.  Almost all the people in the audience were supporters of the two-state idea and, in fact, view it as the only possible solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  My Palestinian friend, on the other hand, was given a rough going over by some of his fellow Palestinians who oppose the two-state solution and favor Israel’s replacement by a state “for all the people who live there.”

At one point a Palestinian student — angered by my colleague’s insistence that the only alternative to two-states was a war that the Palestinians would lose — insisted that those advocating the one-state idea were not advocating violence.  “We don’t support violence against Israelis.  The state we envision can be established without violence.”

My friend laughed that off.  “So you think the Knesset will decide one day to simply declare the State of Israel out of existence? And that will be that?” (more…)

Bridging the Desert — Bringing Peace from a Palestinian’s Perspective

February 21, 2007

The Following is a Speech Delivered by Dr. Ziad Asali, President of Amerian Task Force on Palestine, at the World Affairs Council’s Conference “Bridging the Desert: The Middle East in the Next Decade.”

February 2, 2007

The Palestine/Israel conflict has been a defining feature of the global political landscape for decades. Its resolution would present a major challenge to the status quo and those who benefit from it. It also would badly damage the careers of the legions of Middle East experts the world over.

These experts have talked about us being at a crossroads with regard to resolving this issue and done so every year of every decade in every conference about this conflict. It is my misfortune to state, at this conference, that we are yet again at a crossroads, and perhaps this time it is for real.


Secretary Rice’s Quote to Remember

February 20, 2007

Quote made during a roundtable with reporters, February 18, 2007 in Jerusalem:

“I’m committed to this. I’m committed to seeing what we can do to improve life for the Palestinian people, seeing what we can do to improve security for the Israeli people, seeing what we can do to realize the two states living side by side in peace and freedom. And this is the work that takes — it takes hard work, it takes patience, it takes perseverance, it takes getting up, you know, after a bad day and trying to make a better day. And that’s what I’m going to do.

“So as long as I’m Secretary of State, that’s what I’m going to do. And that’s what the President wants me to do and I think the parties want me to do it, too. And we’ll see where we go. We’ll see how far we can get. You know, we have to continue to work on the daily lives of the Palestinians and we have to continue to work on Palestinian capacity. We have to continue to work on security. But I’m not in this for — you know, to say oh, well, that’s too hard or that’s too complicated. It’s always complicated in the Middle East.”

The White House’s Rehabilitating of the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process

February 20, 2007

Last week, CALME luminary Martin Indyk offered testimony to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs regarding “Next Steps in the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process.”  He started explaining that when President Bush came to office, “The words ‘Middle East peace process’ were literally banned from the State Department’s lexicon. Instead, transformation in the Middle East was to take place on the Bush Administration’s watch not through peacemaking but through regime change and democratization. Six years later, the President’s strategy is in deep trouble, and there is now a new receptivity in Washington to relaunching the Middle East peace process.” 

He argues that one of the key reasons for turning to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is that the “neo-realists” in the White House believe that the only way to take on Iran, today’s leading focus, will be through a coalition of regional moderates led by the Sunni Arab states, and that those states will only agree to join together if the White House again focuses on bringing about an independent Palestinian state.

He said that as the President continues to focus on stifling Iran, “Secretary of State Rice has committed to making Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation her first priority. In pursuit of that priority, she will host a trilateral meeting with Prime Minister Olmert and President Mahmoud Abbas on February 19 in Jerusalem, and has committed to monthly visits to the region until she has prepared the ground for a major peace initiative. She deserves Congressional support for this effort.”

To read Indyk’s full testimony, please click here.