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  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas conducted an unprecedented sequence of three public events during his visit to Washington last week, during which he articulated his positions on a range of issues. The events included an on-the-record dinner hosted by philanthropist Daniel Abraham, a television appearance with PBS host Charlie Rose, and a speech at the Brookings Institution.
  • Topic: Politics, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: United States, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Stephen Hadley, Michael Herzog
  • Publication Date: 07-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The two-state solution is widely accepted as the ultimate outcome of any Middle East peace process. Despite this consensus, progress toward a solution has slowed to a near halt. The difficulty Israel's right wing coalition faces in making concessions on key issues has proven a major obstacle to negotiations, while the split between a Palestinian Authority-controlled West Bank and Hamas in Gaza further diminishes the probability of reaching a solution in the foreseeable future.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Politics, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Hassan Barari
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In early September, three senior leaders of Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood (MB) resigned from the organization's executive bureau after it voted to dissolve the MB political department -- one of the few remaining components of the organization controlled by moderates. The resignations were a protest against not only the executive bureau's decision, but also the MB's increasingly close affiliation with Hamas. Today, the Jordanian MB is facing an unprecedented internal crisis, pitting the traditional moderate East Bank leadership -- Jordanians who are not originally Palestinian -- against the powerful pro-Hamas Palestinian-led element. Lately, these divisions have been aggravated by Hamas political bureau head Khaled Mashal's apparent efforts to exploit the shifting balance of power within the MB to further his own organization's agenda in Amman. Ironically, Jordanian authorities -- who have long prided themselves on managing the Islamist issue -- have done little to stem the tide.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Islam, Politics, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine, Arab Countries
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In the wake of Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni's narrow Kadima party victory over Shaul Mofaz last week, Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert resigned on Sunday night. The following day, Israeli president Shimon Peres asked Livni to form a new governing coalition, but if she is unable to do so in the next six weeks, Israel will head for new elections. Regardless of the coalition's makeup, prospects remain bleak in the short term for a breakthrough on either the Palestinian or Syrian track.
  • Topic: Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Syria
  • Author: Ben Fishman, Mohammed Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 10-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Since the breakdown in talks over the formation of a unity government in mid-September, the Palestinian political environment has become more dangerous and dysfunctional. Paralyzed by ongoing international economic and political isolation, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has essentially ceased to function as tens of thousands of public sector employees continue to strike in protest against unpaid salaries. Factional violence assumed a new level of intensity on October 1 when the Hamas interior minister, Sayed Siam, ordered Hamas's security force to break up demonstrations by the mainstream Fatah-dominated security services, who were protesting after not receiving salary payments. The resulting gun battles left twelve people dead and dozens injured. Fatah loyalists responded to the incident in Gaza by targeting Hamas interests in the West Bank, burning offices, kidnapping officials, and threatening to assassinate Hamas leaders.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Economics, Environment, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: Samer Abu Libdeh
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Even while Israelis and Palestinians are locked in deepening conflict over the kidnapping of a young Israeli soldier and the future of the Hamas government, political life on the East Bank of the Jordan River is increasingly focused on internal Jordanian concerns.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Jordan
  • Author: Christopher Hamilton
  • Publication Date: 06-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Taken together, the kidnapping on Sunday of an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldier and the signing on Tuesday of an agreement among Palestinian factions to create a unity government for the Palestinian Authority (PA) suggest that significant seismic forces may be developing within Hamas that may have a decisive impact both on the organization's solidarity and on the future course of Israeli-Palestinian relations. While the unity agreement itself has little significance beyond internal Palestinian politics—it is a nonstarter for the Israelis and represents a major retreat from previous Palestinian positions—its importance lies in the fact that it highlights the possible emergence of a fissure within the Hamas organization between its internal leaders, headed by Palestinian prime minister Ismail Haniyeh, who experience the brunt both of popular concerns and Israeli reprisals, and its external leaders, chief among them Damascus-based Khaled Mashal, who are free of these constraints and therefore able to insist on more maximalist positions. However, in signing this agreement—apparently without full consultation with, or the approval of, the Damascus contingent—the Hamas leaders in the territories have signaled both their independence and their intention to embark on a more pragmatic path than that preferred by Hamas's more ideological external elements. Indeed, the timing and nature of the attack seems to have been specifically intended to disrupt the effort to agree on a unity government with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, and thereby, the possible emergence of a more moderate Hamas strategy.
  • Topic: International Relations, Defense Policy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Mohammad Yaghi, Ben Fishman
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas's surprise May 25 announcement that he would call for a national referendum should Palestinian factions fail to reach agreement during their national dialogue was wrongly interpreted as a peace plan by many in the press. The document Abbas threatened to put to a popular vote is intended to quell the daily gun battles, kidnappings, and assassination attempts among rival armed groups in Gaza. However, since each party will interpret the document to affirm its own interests, the vague language on relations with Israel could be interpreted either as advocating a one-state solution that would eliminate prospects for peace or as recognizing a two-state solution. Abbas and Fatah may view the “national accord,” negotiated earlier in May among prominent prisoners in Israeli jails, as a means of forcing Hamas into a corner on negotiating with Israel, but the text of the document much more closely resembles Hamas's own political program. (Read an English translation of the national accord in PDF format).
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Peace Studies, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: Soner Cagaptay
  • Publication Date: 02-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Khalid Mishal, a Hamas leader currently residing in Damascus, visited Ankara today. Despite fierce debate in the Turkish press and objections from the secular-minded foreign policy elite, Mishal's visit went ahead with backing from Turkish prime minister Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) government. From the American perspective, the visit is important for three reasons. First, it could potentially hurt Turkey's longstanding role as an honest broker between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Second, it serves as yet another foreign policy breech between Turkey and the West. Third, the visit is a telltale sign of the AKP's policy of “strategic depth” toward the Middle East, a policy that Washington needs to understand given U.S. objectives in Iraq, Syria, and Iran.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Syria
  • Author: Moshe Yaalon
  • Publication Date: 02-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 8, 2006, Lt. Gen. (ret.) Moshe Yaalon addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. General Yaalon served until June 2005 as chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces. The following is a transcript of his remarks. “Hamas's recent victory in the Palestinian parliamentary elections challenges all those actors currently invested in promoting change in the Middle East. These include Israel, Western nations, Arab democrats, and Palestinian moderates. Adding to this challenge is the perception of radical Islamists—Sunni and Shiite alike—that Hamas's victory is a defeat for U.S. policy in the region, a blow to democratization, and a victory for Islamist fundamentalism.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine
  • Author: David Makovsky, Khalil Shikaki
  • Publication Date: 01-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On the eve of the Palestinian legislative elections, Fatah maintains only the slightest of leads over Hamas, a scenario which would have been unimaginable one year ago. Since Yasser Arafat's death in November 2004, Hamas has increased its strength by 40 percent, while in the same period Fatah has only increased its support by 10 percent.
  • Topic: Government, Peace Studies, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Ben Fishman, Mohammed Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 01-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On Wednesday, January 25, Palestinian voters will elect a new Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) for the first time since the initial PLC was elected ten years ago. The participation of Hamas in the elections marks a turning point in Palestinian politics; the group boycotted the original 1996 ballots as part of its rejection of the Oslo process. Ensuring a smooth transition from elections to the seating of the new PLC will require passing several hurdles, not the least of which is protecting balloting and vote-counting from violent disruptions. Assuming election day proceeds without incident—no small matter given the level of domestic lawlessness over the last several weeks—Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas will then face the challenge of selecting a prime minister to form the next government. What remains unknown is precisely how well Hamas will finish in relation to Abbas' own Fatah party, and whether a tight race will lead Abbas to include Hamas as an active partner in the next Palestinian government—or, indeed, whether a poor Fatah showing might prompt Abbas to resign.
  • Topic: Development, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine
  • Author: Ben Fishman, Mohammed Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 01-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: With just over two weeks left before January 25 Palestinian legislative elections, the mainstream Fatah movement remains bitterly divided, with some of its key factions advocating the postponement of elections and others demanding that voting be held as scheduled. Having publicly aired its internal problems over the last weeks rather than developing a clear campaign message, Fatah is unlikely to win more than 40 percent of the seats in the next Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). Even though the question of Israel allowing voting in East Jerusalem now seems resolved, it remains to be seen whether elections will take place. If they do proceed, Fatah is certain to lose its monopoly on the Palestinian Authority and will require a coalition to form the next government.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Jerusalem
  • Author: Ben Fishman, Mohammed Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 11-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In preparation for January elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), Fatah, the mainstream Palestinian faction that dominates the current council, held its first ever primaries on November 25.
  • Topic: Development, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine
  • Author: Ben Fishman, Mohammed Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 10-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In the leadup to Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas's October 20 visit to Washington, the Bush administration urged the Palestinian Authority (PA) to tighten rules enacted in 1995 and change the law governing upcoming Palestinian legislative elections to make it clear that candidates, even those backed by Hamas or other militant groups, could not incite violence or keep ties with militias. However, the PA seems unlikely to adopt this approach, in part because the administration reportedly backed away from its position. What alternative strategies exist for limiting Hamas's political influence?
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Palestine
  • Author: David Makovsky, Dennis Ross, Michael Herzog
  • Publication Date: 08-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 4, 2005, Dennis Ross, Brig. Gen. Michael Herzog, and David Makovsky addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. Ambassador Ross, the Institute's counselor and Ziegler Distinguished Fellow and former U.S. Middle East peace envoy, has just returned from a month in the region. General Herzog of the Israel Defense Force is a visiting military fellow at The Washington Institute. Formerly the senior military aide to the minister of defense, he was also an Israeli peace negotiator. Mr. Makovsky, senior fellow and the director of the Project on the Middle East Peace Process at The Washington Institute, is author of the Institute monograph Engagement through Disengagement: Gaza and the Potential for Israeli-Palestinian Peacemaking. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Topic: International Relations, Peace Studies, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: Jonathan Schanzer
  • Publication Date: 11-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Last week's bombing of a coffee shop and car-bombing attack against a Fatah figure in Ein al-Hilweh, a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, are the latest developments in a wave of recent violence in the camp. Al-Sharq al-Awsat has reported no less than nineteen bombings in Ein al-Hilweh since the end of September 2002. Asbat al-Ansar (League of partisans) – a predominantly Palestinian terrorist group based in the camp, with established links to al-Qaeda – is seen as the culprit behind this violence. In an apparent move to ignite heightened Arab-Israeli tensions, the group has destabilized the camp and surrounding areas. Mounting tensions in this long-neglected and impoverished camp could undermine Lebanese stability, aggravate its refugee crisis, and enfeeble America's efforts in the "war on terror."
  • Topic: Security, Politics, Religion
  • Political Geography: America, Middle East, Palestine, Arab Countries
  • Author: Liat Radcliffe
  • Publication Date: 06-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The following report evaluates trends in Israeli-Palestinian violence during the past seven months using fatality statistics. This analysis covers the period from the outbreak of the "Al Aqsa Intifada" on September 28, 2000 through to April 30, 2001. The following statistics are based primarily on information provided by the Israeli human rights group B'tselem. This data has been cross-checked for accuracy with the Israeli government and U.S. and other Western media sources. For information about fatalities in earlier periods and about methodology, see Peacewatch #317: "Israeli-Palestinian Political Fatalities During The Barak Government: A Statistical Overvie" and Research Note #8: "Trends in Israeli-Palestinian Political Fatalities, 1987-1999."
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Israel, Palestine, Arabia
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 05-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On April 30, the Department of State issued its comprehensive annual report Patterns of Global Terrorism, describing incidents and trends in international terrorism in the year 2000. This year's report covers the first three months of accelerated Palestinian-Israeli violence. It is also marks the first time the Bush administration State Department has been compelled to publicly comment on the nature of Lebanese Hizballah attacks against Israel in the post-withdrawal era.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Politics, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 02-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As Ariel Sharon prepares to take power following his landslide victory, significant changes are also underway in the Palestinian Authority (PA). In anticipation of Sharon's victory, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and leading PA personalities have been preparing a new political agenda to deal with the apparent end of "final status" negotiations and the new Israeli leadership. The most provocative event in recent days has been the issuance of a document — penned by a senior PLO official and longtime associate of PA Ra'is (Chairman) Yasir Arafat — which raises the specter that mainstream Palestinian politics are publicly reverting to the radicalism of pre-Oslo days.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine