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  • Author: Tal Becker
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Amid efforts to relaunch and sustain Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Israel's claim for recognition as a Jewish state continues to generate controversy. While Israel's leaders have insisted that such recognition is fundamental to any peace agreement, Palestinian and other Arab leaders have responded to the claim with consistent and widespread antipathy. To begin to explore how this issue might be appropriately addressed in the context of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, it is necessary to place the claim for recognition in its historical, political, and strategic context. We must consider the nature and legitimacy of the interests at stake and examine the alternatives for addressing them.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Peace Studies, Treaties and Agreements, Territorial Disputes
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia
  • Author: David Makovsky, Robert Satloff, Jacob Walles
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The absence of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations over the past year is both surprising and troubling given the high priority President Obama assigned to resolving the conflict. The failure to resume talks stems largely from a lack of urgency on both sides.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Jerusalem, Arab Countries
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Having raised Arab expectations months ago with the idea of a settlement freeze, the Obama administration now has the unpleasant task of coaxing Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas to tacitly accept an agreement on settlements that offers less than expected -- if more than was offered in the past. Therefore, it is uncertain whether the United States will succeed at arranging a trilateral summit involving President Barack Obama, President Abbas, and Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the UN next week that would culminate in the announcement of a formal relaunching of peace negotiations.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries
  • Author: David Pollock
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: With rumors in the air of a U.S.-brokered, mid-September meeting between Israeli and Palestinian leaders, various regional actors are busy positioning themselves for the coming round of diplomacy. Analysis of these dynamics provides some useful perspective on the road ahead, beyond the usual focus on the minutiae of settlement construction, prisoner exchanges, or other immediate concerns.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries, Syria
  • Author: Mohammad Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: At its recently concluded General Congress, Fatah established a new political program that will affect both its terms of reengagement with Israel and its relations with Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA). Fatah's new constraints on negotiations with Israel, however, may harm Mahmoud Abbas -- PA president and the party's top leader -- who needs to respond positively to international peace initiatives that may conflict with the organization's new rules of engagement. Abbas might ignore these congressional decisions, believing its program is intended only for internal consumption to fend off the accusations of the party's hardline members. Fatah's renewed efforts to reunite the West Bank and Gaza could lead to an escalation with Hamas, since many observers doubt unity can be achieved peacefully.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Terrorism, Power Politics, Political Power Sharing
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: Matthew Levitt, Stephanie Papa
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In recent interviews, Hamas leader Khaled Mashal has offered to cooperate with U.S. efforts to promote a peaceful resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, indicated a willingness to implement an immediate and reciprocal ceasefire with Israel, and stated that the militant group would accept and respect a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip based on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. But the conciliatory tone of this hardline Hamas leader, who has personally been tied to acts of terrorism and is himself a U.S.-designated terrorist, is belied by the group's continued violent actions and radicalization on the ground, as well as the rise to prominence of violent extremist leaders within the group's local Shura (consultative) councils. Hamas's activities of late appear to be diametrically opposed to the compliance of Mashal's statements.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Two and a half months after U.S. president Barack Obama and Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu first hit an impasse over the settlement issue, the dispute has not only continued, it has also grown more complex. Saudi Arabia has now rebuffed requests from Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell to pursue confidence-building measures toward Israel, even in return for a moratorium on settlement construction. Although the Obama administration has not yet leveled any public criticism against Riyadh, it continues to be critical of Israeli settlements. To move diplomacy forward, Washington will have to engage in some creative policymaking.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Peace Studies, Terrorism, Treaties and Agreements, Political Power Sharing
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East, Israel, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Ehud Yaari
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Egypt has been scrambling to formulate a new policy toward the Gaza Strip this week after being challenged by Hamas, which opened more than eleven crossings along the Israeli-constructed wall that serves as the Egypt-Gaza border. Up to 750,000 Palestinians have flooded the northeastern corner of the Sinai Peninsula since January 23, spending approximately $130 million in local markets, while tens of thousands of Egyptians took advantage of the lack of immigration, customs, and security controls to cross into Gaza. This massive movement of people caught many by surprise and may have serious ramifications for Israel, Egypt, and the Palestinians.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza, Egypt
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Israeli-Palestinian political landscape has been rather bleak over the last several years. Between 2000-2004, the second intifada brought almost unremitting terror and violence. Despite Israel's pullout from Gaza in the summer of 2005, the parliamentary victory of the rejectionist Hamas party in January 2006 contributed to this downward trend.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Development, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: Seth Wikas
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The first annual International Media Forum on the Golan Heights, held November 5-7, 2006, in the city of Quneitra on the Syria-Israel border, highlighted Syria's stated desire for the return of the entire Golan. The forum's backdrop was a litany of controversial statements made by Syrian president Bashar al-Asad about his next moves in relation to Israel.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Security
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Syria
  • Author: Christopher Hamilton, Barak Ben-Zur
  • Publication Date: 09-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As part of the international effort to ensure that the cessation of hostilities between Lebanon and Israel can become a sustainable ceasefire, much attention has been paid to blocking arms shipments to Hizballah, as called for in UN Security Council Resolution 1701. But another threat to peace in the region is Hizballah's potent terrorist wing. Arguably its most dangerous offensive weapon, Hizballah's terrorist wing was active throughout this recent conflict.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: David Makovsky, Dennis Ross, Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 09-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 25, 2006, Jeffrey White, David Makovsky, and Dennis Ross addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. Jeffrey White is the Berrie Defense Fellow at The Washington Institute and the coauthor, with Michael Eisenstadt, of the Institute Policy Focus Assessing Iraq's Sunni Arab Insurgency. David Makovsky, senior fellow and director of The Washington Institute's Project on the Middle East Peace Process, is author of the Institute monograph Engagement through Disengagement: Gaza and the Potential for Israeli-Palestinian Peacemaking. He, like Jeffrey White, recently returned from a trip to Israel. Dennis Ross, the Institute's counselor and Ziegler distinguished fellow, is a former U.S. Middle East peace envoy and author of The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Government, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Washington, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Gaza
  • Author: Christopher Hamilton, Barak Ben-Zur
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Earlier this week, Israel began its long-anticipated ground offensive in Lebanon intended to degrade Hizballahs military apparatus, pacify Israels northern border with Lebanon, and lay the foundation for what is now frequently referred to as a sustainable ceasefire. Reaching a consensus on the precise meaning of the term sustainable will be a difficult prerequisite. But however such a ceasefire is defined beyond the presence of a robust international force, there is widespread agreement that it must include the participation of Syriaparticularly a commitment by Damascus to adhere to UN Security Council Resolutions 1559 and 1680. So far, Syria has given no indication that it will agree to such a course, and, given the events of the past several weeks, it is difficult to imagine the circumstances under which Syrian president Bashar al-Asad might change his mind. That said, Israels new ground offensive in Lebanon represents a significant change in the status quo, one that may force Syria to reconsider.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Lebanon
  • Author: Jeffrey White
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The critical question of whether or not the current conflict in Lebanon will escalate to a broader regional war is being answered in two overly simple ways. One such analysis is that this is a “meltdown” with escalating violence and mounting pressures for further escalation. A second, equally simplistic view is that since no one has an interest in escalating to a regional conflict it will not happen. Both of these views do not account for the complex set of dynamics and the real possibility that accident and error can intervene.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, War
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Lebanon
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 07-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On Wednesday, an international conference will open in Italy to discuss the state of Lebanon and explore potential formulas for an Israeli-Hizballah ceasefire. Current conditions make an immediate ceasefire unlikely, but should changing events make a ceasefire possible, one of the first priorities for the Bush administration and the international community will be to find a mechanism to reinvigorate and implement the remaining stipulations of UN Security Council Resolution 1559. In particular, that means disarming Hizballah. The group will no doubt oppose international and domestic efforts to disarm it, but the Lebanese government and the international community can take steps in the context of a ceasefire to consolidate Lebanese resentment toward Hizballah and press ahead with Resolution 1559.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Treaties and Agreements, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Israel, Lebanon
  • Author: Mohammad Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 06-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas's pursuit of a referendum on the Palestinian National Accord has been widely interpreted by commentators and reporters as a power play designed to circumvent the Hamas-led government and force it to implicitly accept Israel's existence. But while the process of conducting a referendum -- the legality of which remains questionable -- would shift power away from the government and the legislature, the actual text of the document, which a group of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails negotiated, more closely resembles the political program of Hamas than that of Abbas. Moreover, Hamas has recovered from its initial surprise at the referendum initiative and has mounted an effective response, first by challenging the legality of a referendum, then by dragging Abbas into negotiations over the substance of the Accord. Despite a possible compromise that may emerge in coming days and shift the composition of the government or modify the language of the Accord, Hamas has used the internal Palestinian debate over a referendum to secure its internal legitimacy and advance many of its governing priorities.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Government
  • 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: Mohammed Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Empowering Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas and fellow moderates at this critical time may be in the interest of everyone who favors a return to peace negotiations, but Abbas himself faces immense challenges to his authority that make him unlikely to be able to implement significant changes in the four months left before Palestinian legislative elections in January. The weakened position Abbas inherited included limited control over security forces, paralyzing rivalries within the Fatah movement that limit any support for difficult decisions, and an increasingly assertive Hamas that constantly flaunts its ability to act independently. None of these sources of Abbas's weakness is likely to change significantly in the coming months. And, despite Abbas's intentions to establish law and order and begin economic revitalization in Gaza as articulated in a speech delivered on September 13, the chaos exhibited along the border at Rafah and in the old Israeli settlements immediately after the Israeli withdrawal demonstrates just how difficult his task will be.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Michael Herzog
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On September 12, the last departing Israeli forces closed the gates of Gaza behind them, followed by a salvo of Palestinian rockets aimed at southern Israel. In the unsettled aftermath of the Israeli disengagement from Gaza and parts of the northern West Bank, only one camp seems clearly to know where it is heading -- the militant Palestinian Islamist groups, led by Hamas. These groups now profess their intention to continue their violent campaign in and from the West Bank. Their strategy, using armed and political capabilities, poses a serious challenge to both Palestinian and Israeli leaderships and may undermine prospects of improved Israeli-Palestinian relations.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Ethnic Conflict
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Israeli disengagement from Gaza and the northern West Bank settlements has left in its wake three important crises for the religious Zionist movement that spearheaded settlements in Israel. These crises involve the settlers' future relationships with the Israeli public, the Israeli state, and the political secular right. For settlers, these three relationships are now colored by a sense of betrayal, raising the question of whether disengagement will radicalize the ideological settlers.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Religion
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Gaza
  • Author: Michael Herzog
  • Publication Date: 07-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's July 22-24 visit to the Israeli-Palestinian scene came amid critical domestic challenges to the Palestinian leadership against the backdrop of imminent Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip and parts of the northern West Bank, scheduled to begin August 15. In an unprecedented step, Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas recently demonstrated the will to enforce his policy of nonviolence on Hamas and curb the group's efforts to become an alternative armed authority. Given his precarious vacillation between appeasement and enforcement, the international community should encourage Abbas to continue down the latter path and provide him with practical support toward that end.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: Dennis Ross
  • Publication Date: 07-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: I have spent the past month in Jerusalem, meeting with Israelis and Palestinians here, in Ramallah, and in Gaza City. In my years of dealing with both sides, I cannot recall a time when emotion in general, and frustration in particular, have so clearly shaped their outlook. Given the death of Yasser Arafat, the emergence of Mahmoud Abbas, and Ariel Sharon's decision to disengage from Gaza, this should be a time of hope and opportunity. Instead, there is less a sense of possibility than of foreboding. It may not yet be too late to use the withdrawal as a platform on which to build a different future. Yet, much of what could have been done to prepare the ground for disengagement has not been done—and that may explain the unease that pervades both sides.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Religion
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 04-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Tomorrow's meeting in Washington, D.C., between President George W. Bush and visiting British prime minister Tony Blair was scheduled before the recent outbreaks of violence in Iraq and before Wednesday's announcement of U.S. support for Israel's plan to unilaterally withdraw from Gaza. But both subjects will top the agenda of talks between the two leaders, and decisions emerging from the meeting could shape international affairs for years to come. Despite the fact that both men need each other's support at the moment, significant political and policy differences between the two persist.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East, Israel, Arab Countries
  • Author: Benjamin Orbach
  • Publication Date: 03-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Egyptian officials and businessmen are visiting Israel this week to discuss the creation of Egyptian-Israeli qualified industrial zones (QIZs), which would give them free trade access to U.S. markets. They seek to emulate Jordan's QIZs, the most successful example to date of U.S.-Arab free trade. Indeed, these zones have given Jordan -- a relatively poor and resource-scarce country -- its most substantial "peace dividend" from its 1994 treaty with Israel. Yet, the Jordan QIZ experiment is in danger of failure, a situation that has important implications for U.S. efforts to promote regional free trade.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Arab Countries, Egypt
  • Author: Jeff Cary
  • Publication Date: 03-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Has the radical Palestinian Islamist organization Hamas adopted a new, more moderate view on peace with Israel? In recent months, elite news organizations -- from the Economist to National Public Radio -- have highlighted interviews by Hamas leaders such as founder Shaykh Ahmed Yassin suggesting a willingness on the part of the organization to negotiate a "long-term truce" with Israel. On December 1, 2003, Yassin declared that Hamas was "ready to reach or to go with this enemy [Israel] into a long-term . . . truce. But the enemy . . . must pull out from all the Palestinian territories and . . . remove all shapes and kinds of occupation."
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia
  • Author: Anna Robinowitz
  • Publication Date: 03-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Among the two million Muslims participating in this year's Hajj in Mecca were a relatively small number of Palestinians and Israeli Arabs. While the vast majority of these pilgrims devoted all of their time in Mecca to religious purposes, others participated in meetings with terrorist operatives as well. Indeed, Hamas, Hizballah, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) have all attempted to recruit future terrorists -- particularly from the coveted Israeli Arab pool -- during the Hajj and lesser pilgrimages to Mecca (or 'umrah). For example, over the past two-and-a-half years, Israeli security forces have arrested two Hizballah terrorists recruited during the Hajj and seven other terrorists recruited while making 'umrah. The fact that terrorist groups of any sort are operating at the Hajj has dangerous implications for the United States. Indeed, it would be naive to assume that al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations targeting U.S. interests are not using Mecca as a convenient and secure location for their own meetings, recruitment, and fundraising.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Mecca
  • Author: Matan Vilnai
  • Publication Date: 02-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 11, 2004, Maj. Gen. (ret.) Matan Vilnai addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. General Vilnai is former deputy chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). From 1989 to 1994, he served as head of the IDF Southern Command, with responsibility for deploying Israeli forces out of Gaza in accordance with the 1994 Gaza-Jericho accord. As a leading member of the Labor Party, he has also served as a senior cabinet minister and member of the Knesset since 1999. The following is a rapporteur's summary of his remarks.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East, Israel, Gaza, Arab Countries
  • Author: Shimon Peres
  • Publication Date: 02-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 23, 2004, Shimon Peres addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. Current chairman of Israel's Labor Party, Mr. Peres previously served as that country's prime minister, foreign minister, and defense minister, as well as in numerous other positions during a career that has spanned six decades. For his contributions to Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking, he received the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize along with the late Yitzhak Rabin and Yasir Arafat. The following is a rapporteur's summary of his remarks.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries
  • Author: Zohar Palti
  • Publication Date: 02-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: For much of the upcoming presidential election season, the United States will no doubt be preoccupied with domestic affairs on the one hand, and the postwar transition in Iraq on the other. Although Washington undoubtedly hopes for a quiet year in the Middle East, reality might bring less desirable results. In the Arab-Israeli arena, the most significant threat to regional stability (beyond Palestinian terrorism) is the Syria-Hizballah-Iran triangle. Hizballah and Syria appear to be reverting to their traditional pattern of ratcheting up terrorist activity whenever they feel they are being ignored. Unless an effort of some sort is made to halt such escalation, Israel's northern front will become the site of a broader conflict in which neither Israel nor the United States wants to become enmeshed at the moment.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East, Israel, Arab Countries, Syria
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 02-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Less than a year ago, Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon rejected the idea of a unilateral pullback from Gaza, telling Labor Party leader Amram Mitzna that isolated settlements such as Netzarim were equal to Tel Aviv in his eyes. Last week, however, Sharon -- a leading architect of Israel's settlement movement -- declared his intention to authorize plans for a unilateral evacuation of at least seventeen of the twenty Israeli settlements in Gaza. Although some remain unsure whether the prime minister will follow through on this pledge, skepticism regarding Sharon's intentions should be balanced by other considerations.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Gaza, Arab Countries
  • Author: Yoram Yoffe
  • Publication Date: 06-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Many Israelis and Palestinians once again have a sense of hope, following President George W. Bush's meeting with Arab leaders at Sharm al-Shaykh and with Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority (PA) prime minister Mahmoud Abbas (known as Abu Mazen) in Aqaba. This new hope in both societies poses an existential threat to terrorist organizations operating in the Israeli-Palestinian arena. Once Israel is no longer viewed as an enemy, there is no clear justification for the existence of such organizations. Hence, it should come as no surprise that these organizations are trying to escalate operations against Israel in an attempt to derail any peace initiatives. In the past, suicide operations undertaken by these organizations have been quite successful in achieving this objective; this should not be allowed to happen again.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Arab Countries
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 01-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The slide in the polls of Ariel Sharon's Likud Party over the last six weeks has been rather dramatic, transforming the character of the campaign from an expected Sharon landslide into a closer contest. In Thursday's Yediot Ahronot-Dahaf poll, Likud dropped from 40 to 28 seats in the 120-member Knesset, while Amram Mitzna's Labor Party edged up to 24 seats from 22. Sharon's losses stem directly from the swirl of Likud election corruption allegations, beginning with low-level charges of vote buying — illegal activity that may have helped catapult Sharon's son Omri onto the parliamentary list. The latest charges, denied by Sharon, surround a $1.5 million loan that the prime minister borrowed from a South African businessman friend, Cyril Kern, to pay back illegal campaign contributions in 1999. Sharon still clings to the hope that his denials will halt his party's slide downward, while Mitzna is finding new hope in the prospect that a drop in support for Likud will lead voters to take a second look at his candidacy.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Arab Countries
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 08-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: This week, amid a deep economic recession, the national unity government of Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon narrowly adopted a 2003 austerity budget. Given the likelihood of new elections within a year, the time and attention of Israeli policymakers will likely be devoted to political maneuvering on serious domestic problems, in addition to the main issue: ongoing Palestinian-Israeli violence.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Arab Countries
  • Author: Matan Vilnai
  • Publication Date: 07-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On July 17, 2002, Minister Matan Vilnai addressed The Washington Institute's Special Policy Forum. Mr. Vilnai is Israel's minister of science, culture, and sport; a member of Israel's inner security cabinet; a Labor member of Knesset; chairman of the ministerial committee for Israeli Arab affairs; and a reserve major-general (he served as head of Israel's Southern Command from 1989 to 1994 when Israeli forces redeployed out of Gaza). The following is a rapporteur's summary of his remarks. A few weeks ago, the Israeli government decided to establish a security fence between Israel and the West Bank in order to stem the tide of Palestinian suicide attacks. This fence has the support of the majority of Israelis for whom daily life has become a harrowing experience and for whom a fence brings some hope of security. This fence should not be seen as a substitute for diplomacy, but rather as a temporary security measure. The fence will not become the permanent border between Israel and the Palestinians. A permanent border can only attain legitimacy if it receives the support of both parties through negotiations.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 06-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: President George W. Bush today tore up a generation of conventional wisdom by offering a bold, new approach that conditioned U.S. support for eventual Palestinian statehood on a new political leadership; a "working democracy"; and far-reaching security, judicial, constitutional, and economic reform. At the same time, he seemed to ask nothing of Israel to which even the current Israeli government has not, in theory at least, already agreed. Having articulated this strategy, the White House will now surely face sustained pressure from Arab and European partners — and perhaps even from some within the administration — to balance the equation by early certification of Palestinian reform and/or accelerated demands on Israel for a redeployment of troops and a freeze on settlements.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 05-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Speaking to the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) in Ramallah yesterday, Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat offered a new political agenda to guide the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the aftermath of Israel's Operation Defensive Shield and U.S.-led diplomatic efforts to win his release from Israeli encirclement. The main headings of that agenda are armed struggle, guided reform, and preparation for elections. No mention was made of the prospects for renewed negotiations or the proposed regional peace conference.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries
  • Author: Natan Sachs
  • Publication Date: 05-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Likud Central Committee meets on Sunday to discuss a resolution opposing Palestinian statehood. Such a resolution could be seen as an important declarative step, despite its lack of legal significance (Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has publicly endorsed the idea of Palestinian statehood — albeit in vague terms). Although a vote on the topic may not occur, the fact that such a resolution is even being tabled casts a spotlight both on the party that is consistently leading Israeli polls and on the efforts of former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu to unseat his rival, Sharon. The next national elections are currently scheduled for November 2003, but, as is often the case in Israeli politics, they could very well be held sooner. Interestingly, the current frontrunner is neither Sharon nor a member of Labor, the main opposing party, but rather a member of the prime minister's own party, the Likud. Two significant developments in the political landscape have contributed to this trend: first, in March 2001 the Knesset repealed the system of direct prime-ministerial elections and reinstated most of the elements of the old system, hoping to aid the larger parties (Likud and Labor) at the expense of smaller ones; second, since the outbreak of the current wave of Palestinian violence in September 2000, the voting preferences of the Israeli electorate have shifted dramatically to the right.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries
  • Author: Matthew Levitt, Seth Wikas
  • Publication Date: 04-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Operation Defensive Shield — the Israel Defense Forces' (IDF's) counterterrorism operation in the West Bank — aims to confiscate illegal weaponry and bombing materiel; destroy factories producing bombs and missiles; constrict the environment in which terrorists plan, prepare, and execute terror attacks; and, most important, apprehend the operatives behind the current terrorist offensive. The operation has come under increasing international fire for delivering only short-term benefits at what seems to be a disproportionately high human cost on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides. An analysis of the operation's success to date, however, clarifies not only the absolute necessity for such an operation, but also the scope of the operation's success in proactively disrupting terrorists' ability to target Israeli civilians. Moreover, a close look at the operation yields a plethora of disturbing evidence exposing the depth of the Palestinian Authority's (PA's) involvement in terrorism, including its links to terrorist groups such as Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries
  • Author: Gal Luft
  • Publication Date: 04-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Since March 28, 2002, the first day of Operation Defensive Shield — Israel's attempt to dismantle the Palestinian terrorist infrastructure — Lebanese Hizballah fighters have attacked northern Israeli settlements and military outposts on an almost daily basis. These unprovoked attacks have included the use of antitank missiles, mortars, katyusha rockets, and antiaircraft weapons directed at Israeli military and civilian aircraft. Among the towns attacked have been Shlomi, Kiryat Shmona, Moshav Beit Hillel, and the Allawite village Ghajar, where Hizballah fire wounded five residents, including three children. In an April 7 Hizballah attack on a military outpost in the western sector (a significant distance from the Shebaa Farms area), seven Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers — five of them women — were wounded. Despite these provocations, Israel has indicated that it does not wish to open a second front against Hizballah, the Lebanese army, or Syria. Yet, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon recently stated, "We are demonstrating restraint and are not interested in an escalation in the violence, but we cannot hold back for much longer," indicating that Israel's patience is about to run out and that harsh military response is imminent.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries, Syria
  • Author: Emphraim Sneh
  • Publication Date: 04-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: One of the best ways to reconcile Israel and the Arab world and, simultaneously, meet the interests of the United States is to maintain a demarcation in the Middle East between rogue states — e.g., those in the "axis of evil" — and moderate states. These moderates states, which are also allies of the United States, include Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, and some Persian Gulf and North African countries. All of these countries must work together to ensure stability in the Middle East and contribute to the containment of rogue states. A coalition of moderate states is feasible — such cooperation became prominent after the Oslo Accords, and it reached a high point at the 1996 Sharmel-Sheikh summit of peacemakers, where Israel, Turkey, and the moderate Arab states joined to condemn terrorism. Although this alliance is currently fractured, the circumstances required for its resumption can occur again. However, it is unlikely that such a coalition can be re-formed as long as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains unresolved. Whenever the Palestinian issue is a bleeding wound, the Middle East divides in the old way, with Israel on one side and the Arab and Muslim states on the other. The Palestinian issue is the only issue on which all the Arab states, moderate and rogue, tend to unite. When the peace process was on a positive track, however, the moderate states succeeded in isolating rogue states like Iraq.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East, Israel, Arab Countries
  • Author: Nitsan Alon
  • Publication Date: 04-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: What has Israel accomplished in its ongoing and large-scale operations in the West Bank? How well have the operations gone from the perspective of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF)? The balance sheet is more positive than some accounts have suggested.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Arab Countries
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 04-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In his Rose Garden speech yesterday, President George W. Bush jumped head-first into the waters of Middle East diplomacy by committing the prestige of his administration to the achievement of an Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire and, ultimately, to "ending the conflict and beginning an era of peace." Analytically, the most important innovation in the president's speech was his clear differentiation between the Palestinian people and the flawed, failed leadership of Yasir Arafat; absent was any hint of the recent days' mantra that Arafat remains indispensable to peacemaking. At the same time, however, the administration stopped short of breaking new ground operationally, relying instead on the prestige of the presidency, the persuasive powers of the secretary of state, and the implied threat to turn to other, as-yet-unnamed "responsible Palestinian leaders" to take the reins of power in the event this last-chance diplomacy fails to stem the terrorism and violence of recent days. Along the way, the president's decision to mesh political objectives with the goal of a ceasefire risked both an erosion of U.S. credibility in Mideast diplomacy and even more terrorism by giving Palestinians reason to believe that violence does succeed in chipping away at U.S. conditions for high-level political engagement.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries
  • Author: Arnon Soffer
  • Publication Date: 03-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Beyond the current violence and terrorism lies a demographic reality in the Arab-Israeli dispute which might in the future transform the politics, economics, and geography of the region. The demographics may affect U.S. foreign policy vis-à-vis the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries
  • Author: Nitsan Alon
  • Publication Date: 03-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Over the past month, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) conducted a large-scale operation in several cities and refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, beginning on the night of February 27 and ending nearly three weeks later with the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Bethlehem and Bet-Jalla on March 18. This operation was unique in several ways: the scale of activity was the largest of the current conflict; it included simultaneous action in several areas in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, using ground, air, and naval forces; and it included massive penetration into areas under full Palestinian control (Area A) and, most notably, into refugee camps, long considered almost out-of-bounds for security forces (even those of the Palestinian Authority [PA]). A careful look at the operation and its outcome, however, shows that the rationale behind it does not represent a shift in Israeli military strategy, but merely a more robust implementation of it.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza, Arab Countries
  • Author: Avi J. Jorisch
  • Publication Date: 03-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 28, Hizballah fired 57mm-antiaircraft missiles at Israeli planes flying over the Shebaa Farms area. According to Hizballah information officer Hassan Azzedin, "the current line of Israeli withdrawal ('blue line') is not consistent with the international boundary and not recognized by the Lebanese government. That's why we're pursuing the path of resistance." Indeed, Hizballah claims that Israel continues to occupy sovereign Lebanese territory, and the organization makes this claim the basis for what it considers legitimate resistance. What, then, is Hizballah's vision of where the Lebanon-Israel border should lie?
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Arab Countries, Lebanon
  • Author: David Makovksy
  • Publication Date: 02-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Recriminations between Israelis and Palestinians on whether Israel sufficiently eased restrictions yesterday on the movement of Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasir Arafat within Ramallah (in return for the arrest of three Palestinians involved in the killing of an Israeli cabinet minister) have overshadowed Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's declaration on Thursday to establish buffer zones in the West Bank.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia
  • Author: Gal Luft
  • Publication Date: 02-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In the past month there have been no less than six incidents in which Hizballah's antiaircraft batteries opened fire against Israeli civilian and military aircraft flying in Israel's northern airspace. This in addition to its repeated and unprovoked attacks on Israeli outposts in the Mount Dov region, next to the Shaba Farms — the 750 acres Lebanon claims as its territory without UN support. In the latest attack on January 24, Hizballah fighters fired rockets, mortars, and forty antitank missiles at an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) outpost.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, United Nations
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Lebanon
  • Author: Binyamin Ben-Eliezer
  • Publication Date: 02-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: "In the new world reality that emerged after September 11, it is easier for everyone to understand that there are no good terrorists and bad terrorists; it is not true that one man's terrorist — as some try to tell us — is another man's 'freedom fighter.' One man's terrorist is everyone's terrorist. . . . In this new world, it is very important that we show no tolerance for those who try to play a double game between us and the terrorists, for those who try to sit on the fence, one leg here, one leg there. In our region, some players still think, still feel, that they can continue the old game, playing both ends. The message must be clear: the old game is over. Make your choice, make it clear, and make it work. . . .
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Yezid Sayigh
  • Publication Date: 02-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The parameters and structure of Palestinian society and polity have not yet been clearly defined or recognized. For Palestine, as for all societies that have been through liberation struggles, the extent of violence during the struggle will have a long-term impact on the future course of Palestinian politics, political values, identity issues, and institutional structures. The means through which the Palestinians obtain their independence will also have a major impact on the future of Palestinian-Israeli relations.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East, Israel, London, Palestine
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 02-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 3, the New York Times published an op-ed by Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat titled "The Palestinian Vision of Peace." The timing of this op-ed is not coincidental. It appeared after several weeks of worsening U.S.-Palestinian ties, during which President George W. Bush registered his deep "disappointment" with the Palestinian leadership and U.S. officials contemplated cutting diplomatic ties with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Coming just days before visits to Washington by Israel's prime minister and defense minister, and just days after those Israeli leaders met with Palestinian interlocutors frequently cited as political successors to Arafat, this op-ed clearly sought to achieve several objectives: (1) to begin the process of repairing bilateral U.S.-Palestinian relations by spotlighting Arafat's peacemaking credentials; (2) to remind American audiences that Arafat — and not his subordinates and would-be successors — determines Palestinian strategy; and (3) to reorder the U.S.-Israel agenda this week to focus more on diplomacy and less on pressuring Arafat on terrorism and the investigation of the Karine-Aweapons-smuggling effort.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution
  • Political Geography: United States, New York, America, Middle East, Israel, Palestine