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  • Author: Ephraim Sneh
  • Publication Date: 03-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The recent delay in talks between the Israelis and Palestinians is the result of an unnecessary crisis initiated by Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Yasir Arafat. The motivation behind this tactic is the idea that you can squeeze more out of the Israelis through crisis than you can at the negotiating table. This artificial stalemate is designed to achieve more for the Palestinians, but ultimately it will not. Such political maneuvering is a mistake. The current dispute regarding the transfer of 6 percent of West Bank territory concerns implementation of one aspect of last year's Sharm al-Sheikh agreement, and this technicality has no real meaning with regard to final status. The Israelis are willing to discuss such issues, but Palestinian eagerness to stonewall the talks pertaining to them draws both parties away from the most important concerns.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Arab Countries
  • Author: Ze'ev Schiff
  • Publication Date: 02-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In the negotiations between Israel and both Syria and the Palestinians, each side has red lines—points on which it cannot concede. No agreement will be possible that crosses the red line of either side. Not all red lines are the same. In particular, Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) have to draw red lines based on how much either can concede and still obtain the support of the public for the agreement, whereas in Syria, President Hafiz al-Asad is the sole decision maker.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries, Syria
  • Author: David Schenker, Khalil Shikaki
  • Publication Date: 02-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In 1996, Assistant Secretary of State for Near East and South Asian Affairs Robert Pelletreau described democracies as "the best partners for making peace and building prosperity." Nevertheless, democracy is a term seldom mentioned with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. U.S. policy toward the Palestinians and the peace process has been focused on security, but that does not necessarily have to come at the expense of democracy. In fact, a more democratic Palestinian Authority (PA) would enhance security. En route to a peace agreement with Israel, Palestinians will be required to make concessions that will be easier to achieve if a popular consensus for those concessions is built through a democratic process. Democracy will promote better governance, resulting in an improved economy and therefore a better Palestinian neighbor for Israel. Furthermore, Palestinians will be discontented without democracy, for they have a long history of democratic civil institutions, including student councils and municipal elections, as well as an extensive knowledge of and appreciation for Israeli democracy.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arab Countries
  • Author: Patrick Clawson, Daniela Gressani, Eliyahu Kanovsky
  • Publication Date: 01-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In many ways, Syria's economy is not very different from that of other countries in the region. Oil is important, accounting for 60 percent of exports. Agriculture is more important than might be expected on the basis of natural endowment: it contributes about 20 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) and about 30 percent of employment. Industry remains very much state led, even when not state owned. The private sector is subject to comprehensive regulations, and foreign trade is less than might be expected for an economy Syria's size. On the other hand, there is a fair amount of labor moving from Syria to neighboring countries. Syria has a young population, so the labor force is growing; young people entering the labor force have a much better education than did the previous generation and therefore seek better jobs and better opportunities.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries, Syria
  • Author: Nicole Brackman
  • Publication Date: 01-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On February 1, the multilateral track of the Middle East peace process is scheduled to resume in Moscow with the first meeting of the Steering Committee since May 1995. In the wake of Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak's election last summer, there was widespread expectation that the multilateral talks would restart, but Egypt insisted no meeting be held until negotiations reopened between Damascus and Jerusalem. The restart of those talks last month paved the way for a revival of the multilateral talks.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Jerusalem, Moscow, Arab Countries, Egypt, Damascus
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 01-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Syria-Israel negotiations are on hold, but Israelis and Syrians have found a way to negotiate through third parties—the media. Two weeks ago, Israel leaked the U.S. draft text of a proposed peace treaty, complete with a timeline for implementation, in the Israeli daily Ha'aretz. Over the last ten days, a surprised and embarrassed Syria has responded with its own leaks through the Lebanese media. Beirut's al-Safir newspaper is the favored recipient of these leaks, the most authoritative of which were a set of interviews by Syrian foreign minister Faruq al-Shara and a document detailing article-by-article amendments to the proposed U.S. text. The Shara interviews highlight Syria's (professed) obsession with dignity as an essential ingredient in negotiations as well as Damascus's demand that the United States procure a clear Israeli commitment to withdraw to the June 4, 1967 borders prior to the renewal of talks. More important, though, is the al-Safir critique of the original U.S. draft treaty. A close reading of that chilly document suggests that Syria is keen to project the image of offering Israel only an arctic-cold peace, correcting the impression advanced by some press reports that al-Shara had offered numerous concessions to Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak during the Shepherdstown talks.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Arab Countries, Syria
  • Author: Patrick Clawson, Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 01-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: After more than a week of negotiations in Shepherdstown, W.Va., the "working draft" of the Syria-Israel peace treaty reported in yesterday's Ha'aretz notes only one area of seemingly irreconcilable difference between the two parties—over the scope of the demilitarized zone separating the two sides. As currently worded, the text neither rules in nor rules out an Israeli withdrawal to the "June 4, 1967, lines." The draft reflects a document much more detailed than a Camp David-style framework accord or an Oslo-type Declaration of Principles but still far short of a full-blown peace treaty. In tone and wording, it is a throwback to the Egypt-Israel peace treaty, with few improvements and even several drawbacks from that two-decade-old document.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Arab Countries, Syria, Egypt
  • Author: Raghida Dergham, Joel Singer
  • Publication Date: 01-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On January 4, 2000, Raghida Dergham, the senior diplomatic correspondent for Al-Hayat newspaper, and Joel Singer, a principal architect of the Oslo Accords and an Israeli participant in the 1996 Wye Plantation negotiations with Syria, addressed the Washington Institute's Policy Forum to discuss the prospects of Syrian-Israeli peace talks in Shepherdstown. The following is a rapporteur's summary of their remarks.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arab Countries, Syria
  • Author: Gal Luft
  • Publication Date: 01-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: While Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Syrian Foreign Minister Faruq al-Shara are talking peace at Shepherdstown, the fighting in south Lebanon still goes on. Last time the two leaders met in Washington in December, the party was almost spoiled after a stray shell fired by South Lebanese Army (SLA) gunners hit an elementary school in the Lebanese village of Arab Salim, wounding twenty-four children. Residents of Israel's northern settlements anticipating Hizballah's wrath had to spend the night in their bomb shelters. Only after Israel's prompt apology, describing the incident as "an unfortunate mistake," did Hizballah, breaking with its usual pattern, agree not to retaliate by firing katyusha rockets at Israel's north.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Washington, Middle East, Israel, Arab Countries, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 01-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: With Syrian-Israeli peace talks underway in Shepherdstown, W.Va., media attention has focused on the shape of a possible peace agreement and the potential for U.S. financial assistance to the parties. Virtually no attention, however, has been paid to the principal legal obstacle in the way of U.S. aid to one of the two putative peacemakers: Syria's place on the State Department's list of countries recognized as "state sponsors of terrorism." It is generally assumed that Syria will "do what it takes" within the context of making peace with Israel to earn its removal from the State Department's list, or that Washington will, in the framework of peace, find enough in Syrian efforts to merit Damascus's decertification as a terrorist-supporting state. In this environment, the potential rises that U.S. antiterrorism efforts will be blurred to fit an emerging Syria-Israel political reality.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Arab Countries, Syria