Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Regional Players Key to Salvaging Peace Process

Some experts think the Obama administration may be the last chance the Middle East has for achieving a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

(Inter Press Service)

One of the biggest foreign policy challenges facing the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama will be reinvigorating what looks like a completely stalled Palestinian-Israeli peace process.

Repeated failures in the struggle for peace make clear that a change in direction is needed. And many observers think that taking advantage of the Arab Peace Initiative put forward by the Arab League in 2002 is just the ticket to jump-starting the process.

A push by President George W. Bush in the final year of his two-term presidency yielded the Annapolis process which, though it made minimal procedural gains and brought in regional players, largely ignored the existing Arab proposal spearheaded by then-crown prince and now King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.

The Annapolis track ended up failing to meet its own goals of having an agreement signed by the end of Bush’s time in office.

The failure leaves Obama and the United States with the task of jump-starting the oft-troubled process. Many close observers of the conflict see some hope for the peace process, but even the optimists think that Obama’s tenure in the Oval Office may be the last chance for a two-state solution.

"This next administration may well be the last administration that could realistically pursue a two-state solution," said Daniel Levy, a former Israeli negotiator, at a conference at the New America Foundation. He was encouraged that Obama had mentioned the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a top-three foreign policy priority when announcing his national security and foreign policy team.

If Obama truly looks to tackle the long-burning Middle East conflict early in his term, he appears to have the support of the Arab League to use the proposal.

"I don’t think the new president has to invent anything new," said Prince Turki Al Faisal Al Saud, a member of the Saudi royal family and former ambassador to Washington, on December 2. Al Saud laid out a number of positive steps from previous peace plans that could be selectively farmed, among them, the Arab Initiative.

"The Arab Peace Initiative created in 2002 is also on the table," he said. "It’s up to the next president to do what is necessary. And he has raised a lot of expectations, particularly in our part of the world."

Al Saud isn’t the only player in the Middle East who supports the initiative.

"There are more and more voices from the region making the case for the Arab Initiative as an organizing principle," Levy told the Inter Press Service (IPS), saying that one of the reasons that Bush’s Annapolis plan had failed was that it ignored the Arab League’s proposal.

The Arab Initiative is an appealing proposal to many proponents of the peace process because it represents the idea of resolving regional tensions with other Arab nations at the same time as creating a viable Palestinian state.

"I see the Arab League Initiative as incorporating all the other [peace processes]," M.J. Rosenberg of the Israel Policy Forum told IPS. "Under its auspices you still have negotiations and [U.N. resolutions]."

But precisely because the initiative comes from the Arab League and is signed by 22 Arab countries, it offers special incentives.

"It’s more like a symbolic rubric to achieve peace with the whole Arab world in one swoop," said Rosenberg. "The thing that makes the initiative unique is that it’s not just offering peace, it’s offering normalization [of relations with Arab neighbors]. That’s something that the most idealistic Israeli never dreamed of."

Another reason that Obama may turn to the initiative is exactly because so many other attempts at peace have stalled or failed.

"[The Arab Initiative] is the only game in town," said Naomi Chazan, a longtime Israeli peace activist and former deputy speaker of the Knesset, at the New America Foundation. Chazan pointed out that the Oslo Accords had failed, been retooled, and failed again, and that the half-hearted and late Annapolis process had never really taken off to begin with.

She said the initiative provides "an element of hope" and that as an Israeli, she, too, was particularly excited at the prospect of normalization.

And the initiative could bear other fruits as well. Levy said it could provide an avenue for Western interests like Israel and the United States to approach and deal with Iran. Chazan, an activist, mentioned that the initiative would open up the doors of the process to civil society to deal with, for example, the issue of Palestinian refugees in neighboring Arab countries.

Another and perhaps more important element of working through the Arab Initiative could be the reunification of the Palestinian territories—currently divided after armed hostilities between Palestinian factions.

"Building on a divided Palestinian house," Levy has said many times, is not a good recipe for creating a Palestinian state.

Egypt, an Arab league heavyweight, is already moderating discussions between the Fatah and Hamas factions, but using the initiative to put the full weight of the Arab world behind Palestinian unity would facilitate this important step, said Levy.

Doing so would "regionalize the solution," he said, a mantra he borrowed from Chazan’s presentation that both speakers on repeated often at the conference.

But the unique opportunity to utilize broad-based Arab support for a peace process, like the two-state goal of the process itself, may be fleeting.

"The first and second time they put it on the table, the Israelis and Americans ignored it," Rosenberg told IPS, referring to the "amazing offer" of normalization.

"I think if Obama doesn’t do something and push the Israelis to act on it, the moment will be lost forever," he said. "It’s hard to imagine some president after Obama will pursue this if Obama doesn’t."

Rosenberg, for his part, thinks it’s likely that Obama will take up the Arab League on its offer.

"He approves of the initiatives, but that doesn’t say anything," said Rosenberg, noting that nothing is certain until Obama takes office and starts making official decisions. "My feeling is he’s going to go with it."

Ali Gharib writes for the Inter Press Service and PRA’s Right Web (https://rightweb.irc-online.org/).

Citations

Ali Gharib , "Regional Players Key to Salvaging Peace Process" Right Web with permission from Inter Press Service (Somerville, MA: PRA, 2008). Web location:
https://rightweb.irc-online.org/rw/4970.html Production Information:
Author(s): Right Web
Editor(s): Right Web
Production: Political Research Associates   IRC logo 1310 Broadway, #201, Somerville, MA   02144 | pra@publiceye.org

Share RightWeb

Featured Profiles

Jon Lerner is a conservative political strategist and top adviser to US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley. He was a key figure in the “Never Trump” Campaign, which appears to have led to his being ousted as Vice President Mike Pence’s national security adviser.


Pamela Geller is a controversial anti-Islam activist who has founded several “hate groups” and likes to repeat debunked myths, including about the alleged existence of “no-go” Muslim zones in Europe.


Max Boot, neoconservative military historian at the Council on Foreign Relations, on Trump and Russia: “At every turn Trump is undercutting the ‘get tough on Russia’ message because he just can’t help himself, he just loves Putin too much.”


Although overlooked by President Trump for cabinet post, Gingrich has tried to shape affairs in the administration, including by conspiring with government officials to “purge the State Department of staffers they viewed as insufficiently loyal” to the president.


Former Sen Mark Kirk (R-IL) is an advisor for United Against Nuclear Iran. He is an outspoken advocate for aggressive action against Iran and a fierce defender of right-wing Israeli policies.


A military historian, Kimberly Kagan heads the Institute for the Study of War, where she has promoted the continuation of U.S. war in Afghanistan.


A “non-partisan” policy institute that purports to defend democracies from “militant Islamism,” the neoconservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) is an influential base of hawkish advocacy on Middle East policy.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Other than the cynical political interests in Moscow and Tehran, there is no conceivable rationale for wanting Bashar al-Assad to stay in power. But the simple fact is, he has won the war. And while Donald Trump has reveled in positive press coverage of the recent attacks on the country, it is clear that they were little more than a symbolic act.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The reality is that the Assad regime is winning the Syrian civil war, and this matters far less to U.S. interests than it does to that regime or its allies in Russia and Iran, who see Syria as their strongest and most consistent entrée into the Arab world. Those incontrovertible facts undermine any notion of using U.S. military force as leverage to gain a better deal for the Syrian people.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

An effective rhetorical tool to normalize military build-ups is to characterize spending increases “modernization.”


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The Pentagon has officially announced that that “long war” against terrorism is drawing to a close — even as many counterinsurgency conflicts  rage across the Greater Middle East — and a new long war has begun, a permanent campaign to contain China and Russia in Eurasia.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Revelations that data-consulting firm Cambridge Analytica used ill-gotten personal information from Facebook for the Trump campaign masks the more scandalous reality that the company is firmly ensconced in the U.S. military-industrial complex. It should come as no surprise then that the scandal has been linked to Erik Prince, co-founder of Blackwater.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

As the United States enters the second spring of the Trump era, it’s creeping ever closer to more war. McMaster and Mattis may have written the National Defense Strategy that over-hyped the threats on this planet, but Bolton and Pompeo will have the opportunity to address these inflated threats in the worst way possible: by force of arms.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

We meet Donald Trump in the media every hour of every day, which blots out much of the rest of the world and much of what’s meaningful in it.  Such largely unexamined, never-ending coverage of his doings represents a triumph of the first order both for him and for an American cult of personality.


RightWeb
share