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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: 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: Mohammad Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As recently as December, Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas refused to back a proposal for a unity government offered by Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member and head of the Independent Palestine list Mustafa Barghouti. That deal was based on the concept of a technocratic compromise under which Hamas officials would not have held the prime ministership or led any ministries. Yet under the terms of the February 8 Mecca accord, the current prime minister, Hamas's Ismail Haniyeh, will stay on as head of the next government, and the only portfolios Hamas members specifically will not hold are the finance, foreign affairs, and interior ministries, which will be headed by independents acceptable to both sides. The key question then is why Fatah settled for a unity agreement in February that provided it far less gains than previous unity proposals rejected by Abbas.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Government
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Palestine, Gaza, Mecca
  • 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: 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: 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: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 03-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Responding to Monday's assassination of Hamas founder Shaykh Ahmed Yassin, Palestinian prime minister Ahmed Qurei stated, "Yassin is known for his moderation, and he was controlling the Hamas" from being more radical. Though frequently called the group's "moderate" leader, Yassin has been directly implicated in authorizing, directing, funding, and providing foot soldiers for Hamas terrorist operations. In August 2003 concrete evidence of such activity led the United States to list Yassin and five other Hamas leaders as Specially Designated Global Terrorists. In so doing, the U.S. government froze the assets of these leaders and banned U.S. nationals from engaging in transactions with them.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Palestine, Arabia
  • 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: 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: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 09-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Prior to September 2000, the track record of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terrorist attacks featured more failed and small-scale operations than successful or substantial ones; at the time, Hamas overshadowed PIJ in terms of terrorist activity. Yet, PIJ's profile has changed since then. In August 2001, Israel listed three PIJ members among its seven most-wanted terrorists, compared to one member each from Hamas, Force 17, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). In October 2001, PIJ secretary general Ramadan Abdullah Shallah asserted, "With the grace of God and the blessing of the blood martyrs, the Islamic Jihad movement is in the best condition it has ever been in," highlighting "its jihadist effectiveness and qualitative operations." PIJ solidified its reputation in the annals of the current Palestinian intifada with the April 2002 standoff in Jenin. Thaabat Mardawi, a senior PIJ commander in Jenin arrested in the course of Israel's Operation Defensive Shield, proudly described the PIJ-led battle against the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to a CNN interviewer: "It was like hunting . . . like being given a prize. I couldn't believe it when I saw the soldiers. The Israelis knew that any soldier who went into the camp like that was going to get killed. I've been waiting for a moment like that for years." PIJ's moment has indeed come; by all accounts, the group will remain a dominant and destructive factor for the foreseeable future.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Palestine, Arab Countries
  • Author: Ziad Abu Amr
  • Publication Date: 07-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On June 27, 2002, Ziad Abu Amr addressed a special Washington Institute seminar on reforming the Palestinian Authority (PA). Mr. Abu Amr is chairman of the Political Committee of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). The following are excerpts from his presentation, as transcribed by the Institute. Citing a recent speech given by Yasir Arafat to the PLC on the importance of reform, Abu Amr said, "For the first time, he acknowledged that there were mistakes, but he takes responsibility, something I personally did not like because this meant from the very start, suppressing the process of accountability and actual reform. The idea of the president was, 'Okay, there were mistakes. We close the files. We start afresh.' That was not acceptable."
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East, Palestine, Arab Countries
  • Author: Hassan Abu-Libdeh
  • Publication Date: 07-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On June 27, 2002, Hassan Abu Libdeh addressed a special Washington Institute seminar on reforming the Palestinian Authority (PA). Dr. Abu Libdeh is director of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics and a professor at Bir Zeit University. The following are excerpts from his presentation, as transcribed by the Institute. "The PA was born out of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which was known for a long time as an aging, ineffective, corrupt, and poorly managed institution . . ."
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Palestine, Arab Countries
  • Author: Khalil Shikaki
  • Publication Date: 07-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On June 27, 2002, Khalil Shikaki addressed a special Washington Institute seminar on reforming the Palestinian Authority (PA). Dr. Shikaki is an associate professor of political science at Bir Zeit University and director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah. The following are excerpts from his presentation, as transcribed by the Institute. "Initially, Palestinian interest [in reform] was basically an effort to address the issue of waste. . . . One year into the establishment of the Palestinian Authority [PA], the Palestinian comptroller issued a report which shocked everybody because the report basically said we have been wasting something like $250 million. . . . Waste, corruption, violation of human rights in Palestinian jails, security forces essentially ignoring any law and order, were all factors that became of serious interest in the early two or three years of the Palestinian Authority. . . . The reason for all of this is the fact that the Palestinians so far have failed to build strong institutions, structurally speaking. . . ."
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East, Palestine, 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: 07-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As President George W. Bush was offering his vision for a post-Yasir Arafat Palestinian state two weeks ago, the Palestinian leader's cabinet was itself unveiling a "100-day plan" for reforming the Palestinian Authority (PA). This plan was clearly designed to both respond to popular demands to fix the PA's broken or stillborn institutions as well as steer the reform process down a nonthreatening, Arafat-controlled course. While it offers promising elements of change, the plan is only likely to strengthen the unacceptable status quo.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, 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: Shaul Mofaz
  • Publication Date: 06-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The IDF began planning for the contingency of carrying out extensive military operations throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip long before the deployment of Operation Defensive Shield in late March 2002. As early as 1998, during a period when hopes abounded for peace with both the Syrians and the Palestinians, the IDF's general staff faced the challenge of preparing for the failure of negotiations and the possibility of violence. Israeli intelligence reports anticipated the hostilities that eventually materialized in September 2000, following the unsuccessful talks at Camp David. A number of short-term and structural reforms within the IDF began in early 2000, aimed at improving readiness and maximizing efficiency. The optimistic tone of the times, however, had led to budget cuts for the military; eventually, the government was forced to allocate an additional $150 million in order to prepare soldiers for the anticipated violence.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution
  • Political Geography: United States, Washington, Middle East, Palestine, Arab Countries, Syria
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 05-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: With this week's dispatch to the Middle East of Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet and Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs William Burns, the Bush administration has put its toe into the water of Palestinian reform. Success in this vital effort will require avoiding the trap of sham reform (such as a disproportionate focus on elections that might only confirm the worst excesses of Palestinian misrule) or effectively endorsing any particular Palestinian leader or would-be leader (thereby repeating the mistakes of the last decade). Instead, Washington should focus on the larger objectives at hand. At the core, there are two: 1) fostering the development of Palestinian national institutions based on democracy, transparency, accountability, fiscal propriety, and the rule of law; and 2) advancing the prospect for lasting peace and security between Israel and the Palestinian Authority ([PA] and its eventual successor, the State of Palestine). These two objectives may be complementary, though not necessarily so; in fact, in certain circumstances, they may be contradictory. Indeed, in approaching the Palestinian reform process, U.S. officials should not only highlight the importance of structural change but also keep in mind the pitfalls of promoting (or acquiescing in) certain kinds of "reform" that may inhibit, handicap, or prevent real peacemaking from taking hold. A review of two key documents — #151; the Basic Law governing the PA until the conclusion of the current "transitional period" and the PLO-endorsed draft constitution for the future State of Palestine — #151; reveals several areas where U.S. officials need to take particular notice as they discuss various reform ideas with Palestinian leaders.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Palestine, Arab Countries
  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 05-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The State Department recently submitted its semiannual Palestine Liberation Organization Commitments Compliance Act (PLOCCA) report to Congress, assessing PLO and Palestinian Authority (PA) compliance with commitments made under the Israeli-Palestinian peace accords during the period June 15, 2001-December 15, 2001. The report acknowledges some PA shortcomings over the reporting period, but glosses over many gross violations of PA-PLO peace commitments throughout this period. In drawing its conclusions, the report did not take into account evidence of PA support for and involvement in terrorism laid out in approximately 500,000 documents Israel seized from PA offices in the course of Operation Defensive Shield. But there is good reason to expect that the U.S. government will find much of value in the seized Israeli documents. Ambassador Francis X. Taylor, the State Department's coordinator for counterterrorism, recently commented, "We don't have any question about the authenticity of the documents provided by the Israeli Government." Therefore, it is instructive to see where the documents shed light on issues discussed in the PLOCCA report. Once the material seized by Israel has been reviewed by the U.S. intelligence community — #151; a process that, presumably, will be completed shortly — #151; it would be appropriate to issue an updated version of the PLOCCA report, incorporating the additional information about PLO-PA activities during the June 15-December 15 period.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, 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: Gal Luft
  • Publication Date: 05-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Last week, during the visit of Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, President George W. Bush announced the need to "immediately begin to help rebuild a security force in Palestine that will fight terror, that will bring some stability to the region." He also stated that Central Intelligence Agency director George Tenet will be returning to the region "to help design the construction of a security force, a unified security force, that will be transparent, held accountable." Immediately after Bush's announcement, Sharon declared that he viewed security reform — #151; that is, purging the Palestinian Security Services (PSS) of corruption and terrorism — #151; as a precondition for a meaningful peace process, while, for his part, Bush did not create linkage between the two. Whatever differences exist in terms of linkage between reform and diplomacy, the administration's initiative is positive and necessary. The task at hand, however, is monumental, and solutions will take time, effort, and diplomatic skill. Quick fixes imposed from outside are unlikely to succeed unless they are accompanied by a fundamental change in the Palestinian leadership's approach to terrorism, counterterrorism, and peacemaking, and also by effective treatment of the deeply rooted social and institutional ailments within the Palestinian Authority (PA).
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, 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: Natan Sachs, Nitsan Alon
  • Publication Date: 05-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On Tuesday, former president Bill Clinton joined others in advocating a U.S.-led international force in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Several frameworks for such an intervention have been proposed, ranging from monitoring missions to full-fledged international trusteeship over the territories. Underlying these ideas is a lack of confidence in both sides, the Israelis and the Palestinians, along with a perception that the latter are unable or unwilling to stop terror. Although the appeal of external intervention may be strong, an analysis of the relevant security repercussions suggests that such intervention would not only be hazardous, but would also likely do more harm than good in the fight against terrorism.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Palestine, Arab Countries
  • Author: Matthew Levitt, Ehud Waldoks
  • Publication Date: 05-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The State Department's annual Patterns of Global Terrorism report, which is scheduled for release in late May, is set to be a much longer and detailed document than before. Among the many issues the report will have to address is the resurrection of secular Palestinian terrorist groups, some of which have not been listed on U.S. government terrorist lists in the past. The steady escalation of terrorist tactics and operations over the past year and a half is due as much to these groups as it is to Palestinian Islamist groups such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad that have dominated the Palestinian terrorism scene over the last decade. Palestinian nationalist terrorism currently has two components: 1) dormant secular groups such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) — referred to collectively as "the fronts" — that have been revitalized after several years of inactivity; and 2) newly active nationalist, non-Islamist militias connected to the Palestinian Authority (PA), such as the Fatah Tanzim.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, 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: 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: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 02-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Lebanon may well have come to the West Bank and Gaza. Over the past year and a half, Hamas has adopted traditional Hizballah guerilla tactics such as roadside bombings, short-range rocket and mortar launchings, using squads of terrorists from a variety of groups, and videotaping attacks and potential suicide bombers. In the proud words of Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah, "[Palestinians] are now operating against the Israeli occupation with Hizballah methods." More ominous, there are increasing signs that Hamas may follow Hizballah's example and broaden its operational objectives to include targeting Americans for attacks.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, War
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Middle East, Palestine, Arabia, Gaza, 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: 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
  • Author: Gal Luft
  • Publication Date: 01-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The Palestinian defense budget spending — relative to national income — is higher than that of any Arab country or Iran. This calculation is based on official data that exclude an important part of a state's defense budget — namely, procurement of weapons. The Oslo agreements prohibit the Palestinian Authority (PA) from procuring arms, yet they have been smuggled into the territories for years. It is not known how much the Palestinians actually invest in illegal weapons procurement, and there is no way to know how many wea
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Washington, Middle East, Palestine
  • Author: Gal Luft
  • Publication Date: 01-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Alongside the diplomatic efforts to reach a ceasefire with Israel, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has been involved — since the beginning of the second intifada — in the indigenous production of weapons and ammunition and in repeated attempts to smuggle arms on a massive scale into the territories under its control. To thwart these efforts and to degrade the PA's fighting capabilities, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have destroyed dozens of warehouses and weapons-producing factories and have sealed all land, sea, and air passages leading into the PA.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 01-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Israeli naval commandos seized the Gaza-bound freighter Karine-A in the Red Sea last Thursday, exposing a cargo hold containing fifty tons of munitions. The seizure took place in international waters some 300 miles off of Israel's southern coast, between Sudan and Saudi Arabia. The ship's captain, Omar Akkawi, later participated in an interview with Reuters and several television networks invited by Israeli authorities to the prison where Akkawi was being held; in the interview, he named Adel Awadallah of the Palestinian Authority (PA) as head of the operation. Akkawi also identified himself as both a long-time member of Yasir Arafat's Fatah and a naval advisor to the PA's Ministry of Transport; the PA subsequently confirmed the latter fact. In front of the reporters, Akkawi disclosed his instructions to first collect arms at a specified point off of Iran's coast and then sail through the Red Sea and Suez Canal to the Mediterranean. He also confirmed that one of the men who helped load the arms onto his ship was a member of the Iranian-backed Hizballah, and that one of his own crew members had been trained by the group.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Sudan, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gaza, Arab Countries, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Seth Wikas
  • Publication Date: 01-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The arrival of U.S. envoy General Anthony Zinni in Jerusalem today comes during a relative lull in the terrorism and violence that has characterized the Israeli-Palestinian scene since the eruption of the al-Aqsa intifada in September 2000. This lull is at least partly due to the December 21 decision of Hamas to suspend attacks against Israel. But a review of the eight years since the signing of the Oslo Accord shows that this is actually the ninth ceasefire that Hamas has offered or declared during that period.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Oslo
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 12-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The decision by Israel's security cabinet last night to sever contact with Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Yasir Arafat, declaring him "irrelevant" in halting current Hamas suicide bombings and attacks, marks a new nadir in Israeli-Palestinian relations since the 1993 Oslo accords. Israel is frustrated by how little the PA has done to arrest Hamas members and other terrorists who are allegedly connected to the ongoing violence. But Israel's options are limited.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia
  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 12-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In the wake of this weekend's heinous Hamas suicide attacks in Israel, President Bush demanded, "Now more than ever, Chairman Arafat and the Palestinian Authority must demonstrate through their actions and not merely their words their commitment to fight terror." Last month the administration designated Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs). Today, the administration led by example, following up on its strong words to Arafat with action of its own. The president characterized Hamas as a group of "global reach" and announced the freezing of financial assets associated with three organizations linked to Hamas as part of the administration's effort targeting terrorist fundraising. With today's order, the president expanded the active war on terrorism beyond Al Qaeda and the Taliban to include groups who target the Middle East peace process.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Palestine, Arabia