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  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 07-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Domestic political considerations will be an important factor in Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak's moves at Camp David. Although he would like to have one for a myriad of reasons, politically Barak does not need a deal. To the contrary, failure to reach an agreement could even bring his "big tent" coalition back from dead. Barak had hoped to have a broad government that included the religious parties behind him, having learned from the Yitzhak Rabin era that it was a mistake to have a narrow government relying on its Arab members to squeeze through Knesset confidence votes. But having lost the Jewish majority before his departure, the prime minister's critics will insist that the results of the Camp David summit are illegitimate. Undoubtedly, Barak will reject such assertions, pointing to his promise to hold a national referendum.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arabia
  • Author: Elyakim Rubinstein
  • Publication Date: 07-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Although the failure of the Camp David II summit to reach a final status agreement between Israel and the Palestinians is certainly sad, it is important to emphasize that this two-week meeting was not a waste of time. For the first time, Israelis and Palestinians sat together in an official setting and thoroughly discussed previously deferred matters like Jerusalem and the refugees. Although unsuccessful in reaching a full resolution, a "basic and very deep clarification of the positions" was achieved at Camp David. A partial agreement was not the preferred alternative of either the Israelis or the Palestinians.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arabia
  • Author: Reuven Paz
  • Publication Date: 06-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The sudden death of Syrian president Hafiz al-Asad on June 10 added confusion and uncertainty to the relations among Syria, Israel, and Lebanon—relations that were already in flux after Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon. One unexpected result may be increased politicization of the Israeli Arabs in northern Israel.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arabia
  • Author: Reuven Paz
  • Publication Date: 05-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Israel's quick withdrawal from Lebanon and the collapse of the South Lebanon Army (SLA) is certain to be studied by Hamas, the main Palestinian Islamist organization. To understand what lessons Hamas may draw, it is useful to look at two recent developments: discussion inside Hamas about "Lebanonizing" the Palestinian territories and the early May arrest of Hamas military commander Muhammad Deif by the Palestinian Authority (PA).
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Arab Countries
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 05-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As violence rocked the West Bank and Gaza, Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak was scoring a significant parliamentary victory Monday. By a 56-48 margin, the Knesset approved transfer of three Palestinian villages on the outskirts of Jerusalem, including Abu Dis, from partial to full control by the Palestinian Authority (PA). An endorsement of Barak's peace process approach, the vote also stemmed a growing perception that the prime minister is hopelessly captive to the escalating, conflicting demands of recalcitrant coalition partners.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Jerusalem, Gaza, Arab Countries
  • Author: Yoram Hazony, Israel Bartal
  • Publication Date: 05-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Abandonment of the Zionism of Ben Gurion and Herzl by Mainstream Zionist Intellectuals. The movement away from the concept of Israel as a Jewish state is spreading across the ideological spectrum and at times has had an effect on Israeli policy. Examples include: In 1994 a new code of ethics was adopted for the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) which in its explanation of the purposes for which the IDF fights excluded all references to the Jewish state, the Jewish people, and the land of Israel. The Law of Return, the law that Ben Gurion said gives a "bill of rights" to all Jews in the world, has been recently under fire. It has been termed one of the main racialist aspects of the Jewish state that must be repealed if Israel is to ever have peace with its Arab citizens. Preeminent Zionist thinker and Hebrew University professor Eliezer Schweid is promoting the adoption of a universalistic Zionism applicable to Jews and non-Jews alike in Israel. He suggests adding a symbol to the Israeli flag that would represent the participation of the Arab minority (it is difficult to imagine a symbol other than the half-crescent moon that would serve this purpose) and changing the national anthem to reflect a more universalist interpretation of Zionism.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Arab Countries
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 03-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As Palestinian and Israeli negotiators settle into a negotiating routine in Eilat this week, the peace process quietly marks an anniversary of sorts—one year ago the Oslo-Wye diplomacy faced the threat of a unilateral Palestinian declaration of independence. That step was temporarily averted when Palestinian Authority (PA) ra'is Arafat postponed his May 4 declaration until after the Israeli election that month and then, following the signing of the Sharm el-Sheikh accord with the new government of Ehud Barak, until September 13, 2000. Today, May 4 is no longer a critical date on the calendar of Palestinian national aspirations. Yet, it does remain an important milestone for those committed to developing a more representative, democratic, and accountable PA. And more so than is commonly recognized, that process in turn is likely to have a significant impact on the prospects for an eventual Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Arab Countries
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 04-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: With Israeli-Palestinian peace talks getting underway in Eilat this weekend, the Middle East seems to be switching peace tracks yet again. After President Bill Clinton held separate White House meetings with Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Yasir Arafat earlier this month, State Department spokesman James Rubin said, "In our judgment, the next six to eight weeks could well be a decisive phase in the pursuit of peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis. . . . That phase obviously is now including a more intensive American involvement." This shift—after several months of focusing on Syria talks—does not necessarily mean that the Syrian track can be considered dead and buried (and indeed Arab leaders such as Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah are said to be quietly seeking to revive that track). Yet, operationally, it means that the United States and Israel will no longer wait for Syria as they revive the Palestinian track and plan for Israel's pullback from Lebanon in July.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Arab Countries, Saudi Arabia, Syria
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 04-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The withdrawal of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) from southern Lebanon announced by Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak looms large. Set for July 7, this withdrawal is closely linked to the Syrian track of negotiations. It will end the fifteen-year status quo of the security zone, with Israel planning to defend itself from the international border with Lebanon. The target date is also a deadline for the negotiations with the Syrians, as nine years after the peace conference in Madrid we are likely to witness either a breakthrough or a breakdown.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Arab Countries, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 03-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: President Clinton's trip to Geneva on Sunday to meet Syrian leader Hafiz al-Asad begins the last leg of the administration's eight-year marathon effort to broker an elusive Syrian-Israeli peace agreement. The stakes, however, are higher than just Clinton's peacemaking legacy. While most observers believe that Syria and Israel are just a whisker away from peace, the two countries are also not much further away from conflict and perhaps war. Within days, the countdown to one of those outcomes will be clear.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Geneva, Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Arab Countries, Syria
  • Author: Marshall Breger, George Weigel
  • Publication Date: 03-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Historically the Vatican's view of Israel and Zionism was negative. The Vatican explicitly told Herzl that that the Jews were meant to wander, and if they set foot on Palestinian soil the Christians would be there to convert them. The main concern of the Catholic Church regarding the Holy Land has long been to maintain the status quo of the Catholic holy places. For many years, the Church supported the creation of Jerusalem as an entity independent from the surrounding states—a corpus separatum. But in the 1970s, the Vatican spoke instead of international guarantees for the holy places, an idea that remains Vatican policy today.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Jerusalem, Arab Countries, Vatican city
  • Author: Alan Makovsky, Cengiz Candar, Efraim Inbar
  • Publication Date: 03-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The emergence of close Israeli-Turkish relations is one of the significant strategic developments in the post-Cold War Middle East. These ties are likely to flourish as long as Israel and Turkey remain pro-Western, anti-Islamic fundamentalist, and compatible in military inventory. Turkish-Israeli ties should be described as a "strategic relationship," not as an alliance. Turkey and Israel are not obligated or likely to go to war if the other is attacked. They also have somewhat differing threat perceptions regarding Syria, Iraq, and Iran.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Arab Countries, Syria
  • Author: Ephraim Sneh
  • Publication Date: 03-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The recent delay in talks between the Israelis and Palestinians is the result of an unnecessary crisis initiated by Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Yasir Arafat. The motivation behind this tactic is the idea that you can squeeze more out of the Israelis through crisis than you can at the negotiating table. This artificial stalemate is designed to achieve more for the Palestinians, but ultimately it will not. Such political maneuvering is a mistake. The current dispute regarding the transfer of 6 percent of West Bank territory concerns implementation of one aspect of last year's Sharm al-Sheikh agreement, and this technicality has no real meaning with regard to final status. The Israelis are willing to discuss such issues, but Palestinian eagerness to stonewall the talks pertaining to them draws both parties away from the most important concerns.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Arab Countries
  • Author: Ze'ev Schiff
  • Publication Date: 02-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In the negotiations between Israel and both Syria and the Palestinians, each side has red lines—points on which it cannot concede. No agreement will be possible that crosses the red line of either side. Not all red lines are the same. In particular, Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) have to draw red lines based on how much either can concede and still obtain the support of the public for the agreement, whereas in Syria, President Hafiz al-Asad is the sole decision maker.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries, Syria
  • Author: David Schenker, Khalil Shikaki
  • Publication Date: 02-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In 1996, Assistant Secretary of State for Near East and South Asian Affairs Robert Pelletreau described democracies as "the best partners for making peace and building prosperity." Nevertheless, democracy is a term seldom mentioned with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. U.S. policy toward the Palestinians and the peace process has been focused on security, but that does not necessarily have to come at the expense of democracy. In fact, a more democratic Palestinian Authority (PA) would enhance security. En route to a peace agreement with Israel, Palestinians will be required to make concessions that will be easier to achieve if a popular consensus for those concessions is built through a democratic process. Democracy will promote better governance, resulting in an improved economy and therefore a better Palestinian neighbor for Israel. Furthermore, Palestinians will be discontented without democracy, for they have a long history of democratic civil institutions, including student councils and municipal elections, as well as an extensive knowledge of and appreciation for Israeli democracy.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries
  • Author: Nicole Brackman
  • Publication Date: 01-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 1, the multilateral track of the Middle East peace process is scheduled to resume in Moscow with the first meeting of the Steering Committee since May 1995. In the wake of Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak's election last summer, there was widespread expectation that the multilateral talks would restart, but Egypt insisted no meeting be held until negotiations reopened between Damascus and Jerusalem. The restart of those talks last month paved the way for a revival of the multilateral talks.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Jerusalem, Moscow, Arab Countries, Egypt, Damascus
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 01-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Syria-Israel negotiations are on hold, but Israelis and Syrians have found a way to negotiate through third parties—the media. Two weeks ago, Israel leaked the U.S. draft text of a proposed peace treaty, complete with a timeline for implementation, in the Israeli daily Ha'aretz. Over the last ten days, a surprised and embarrassed Syria has responded with its own leaks through the Lebanese media. Beirut's al-Safir newspaper is the favored recipient of these leaks, the most authoritative of which were a set of interviews by Syrian foreign minister Faruq al-Shara and a document detailing article-by-article amendments to the proposed U.S. text. The Shara interviews highlight Syria's (professed) obsession with dignity as an essential ingredient in negotiations as well as Damascus's demand that the United States procure a clear Israeli commitment to withdraw to the June 4, 1967 borders prior to the renewal of talks. More important, though, is the al-Safir critique of the original U.S. draft treaty. A close reading of that chilly document suggests that Syria is keen to project the image of offering Israel only an arctic-cold peace, correcting the impression advanced by some press reports that al-Shara had offered numerous concessions to Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak during the Shepherdstown talks.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Arab Countries, Syria
  • Author: Patrick Clawson, Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 01-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: After more than a week of negotiations in Shepherdstown, W.Va., the "working draft" of the Syria-Israel peace treaty reported in yesterday's Ha'aretz notes only one area of seemingly irreconcilable difference between the two parties—over the scope of the demilitarized zone separating the two sides. As currently worded, the text neither rules in nor rules out an Israeli withdrawal to the "June 4, 1967, lines." The draft reflects a document much more detailed than a Camp David-style framework accord or an Oslo-type Declaration of Principles but still far short of a full-blown peace treaty. In tone and wording, it is a throwback to the Egypt-Israel peace treaty, with few improvements and even several drawbacks from that two-decade-old document.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Arab Countries, Syria, Egypt
  • Author: Raghida Dergham, Joel Singer
  • Publication Date: 01-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On January 4, 2000, Raghida Dergham, the senior diplomatic correspondent for Al-Hayat newspaper, and Joel Singer, a principal architect of the Oslo Accords and an Israeli participant in the 1996 Wye Plantation negotiations with Syria, addressed the Washington Institute's Policy Forum to discuss the prospects of Syrian-Israeli peace talks in Shepherdstown. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arab Countries, Syria
  • Author: Gal Luft
  • Publication Date: 01-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: While Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Syrian Foreign Minister Faruq al-Shara are talking peace at Shepherdstown, the fighting in south Lebanon still goes on. Last time the two leaders met in Washington in December, the party was almost spoiled after a stray shell fired by South Lebanese Army (SLA) gunners hit an elementary school in the Lebanese village of Arab Salim, wounding twenty-four children. Residents of Israel's northern settlements anticipating Hizballah's wrath had to spend the night in their bomb shelters. Only after Israel's prompt apology, describing the incident as "an unfortunate mistake," did Hizballah, breaking with its usual pattern, agree not to retaliate by firing katyusha rockets at Israel's north.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Israel, Arab Countries, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 01-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: With Syrian-Israeli peace talks underway in Shepherdstown, W.Va., media attention has focused on the shape of a possible peace agreement and the potential for U.S. financial assistance to the parties. Virtually no attention, however, has been paid to the principal legal obstacle in the way of U.S. aid to one of the two putative peacemakers: Syria's place on the State Department's list of countries recognized as "state sponsors of terrorism." It is generally assumed that Syria will "do what it takes" within the context of making peace with Israel to earn its removal from the State Department's list, or that Washington will, in the framework of peace, find enough in Syrian efforts to merit Damascus's decertification as a terrorist-supporting state. In this environment, the potential rises that U.S. antiterrorism efforts will be blurred to fit an emerging Syria-Israel political reality.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arab Countries, Syria