Arab Peace Initiative

Taking Advantage of the Calm Before the Storm

Published in the Huffington Post on Jan. 31, 2012.

Last week, I asserted that it was unlikely that the Israelis and Palestinians would achieve a diplomatic breakthrough by January 26. The history of failed bilateral negotiations shows that it may be time to try a novel and multilateral approach advocated by the Arab Peace Initiative. Continue reading “Taking Advantage of the Calm Before the Storm”

Arab Peace Initiative

Reexamining the Arab Peace Initiative

Published in the Huffington Post on Jan. 24, 2012.

The series of direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians which began in Amman on January 3 are scheduled to end on January 26. While the Middle East Quartet may extend this deadline to continue negotiations, it appears this would have little effect in formulating any comprehensive agreement. Neither side genuinely believes a breakthrough will occur. The PLO has threatened that if Israel does not halt all settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, it would not only abandon diplomacy, but it would pursue “harsh” unilateral measures to gain statehood and recognition. This would include a popular “civil disobedience” aimed at forcing Israel to evacuate from the West Bank. Continue reading “Reexamining the Arab Peace Initiative”

Jordan

King Abdullah’s Talks With President Obama

Published in the Huffington Post on Jan. 17, 2012.

A key item on the agenda for Jordanian King Abdullah’s meeting with President Obama on January 17 will be the fate of Israel-Palestinian negotiations. Jordan hosted a series of direct talks between Israel and the PLO which began on January 3. Israeli and Palestinian officials have agreed to conduct a fourth round of talks on January 25 — the day before Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas demanded that Israel freeze all settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and present a framework for a two-state solution. Israel, however, rejects the January 26 ultimatum and argues it has until March to provide a response. Continue reading “King Abdullah’s Talks With President Obama”

Palestinians

Confronting Palestinian Reactions to Failed Talks With Israel

Published in the Huffington Post on Jan. 12, 2012.

In the autumn of 2011, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas embarked on a controversial diplomatic offensive to have the United Nations recognize the state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital. While Abbas asserts that this strategy is neither intended to delegitimize nor embarrass Israel, the United States, Israel and most European nations view it as a mechanism to bypass direct talks with Israel. These countries have insisted that only direct negotiations between the two parties can achieve a political settlement. On November 11, the 15-member Security Council failed to reach a consensus and Abbas’ bid remains stalled. Continue reading “Confronting Palestinian Reactions to Failed Talks With Israel”

Egypt

How Will Egyptian Islamists Rule?

Published in the Huffington Post on Jan. 3, 2012.

Polling data in Egypt suggests that Islamist parties will gain a majority of seats in Egypt’s future parliament. While it is too soon to predict whether an Islamist government in Egypt can coexist with democracy, and whether it can adopt a truly “Egypt-first” approach which focuses on domestic concerns above foreign and external issues, recent developments raise concerns regarding Egypt’s future. Continue reading “How Will Egyptian Islamists Rule?”

Egypt, Israel

Egypt’s Islamists and Israel

In November 2011, the first parliamentary election was held in Egypt since President Hosni Mubarak’s abdication.  Egyptians began voting for the National Assembly (lower house) in three phases.  The first phase allocated a majority of votes to the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party and al-Nour, the more fundamentalist Salafist party.  At the end of December, the second round of parliamentary elections concluded with another plurality for Islamist parties.  The final round of voting is scheduled for tomorrow, with Islamists anticipating similar gains. Continue reading “Egypt’s Islamists and Israel”