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  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 03-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As Palestinian and Israeli negotiators settle into a negotiating routine in Eilat this week, the peace process quietly marks an anniversary of sorts—one year ago the Oslo-Wye diplomacy faced the threat of a unilateral Palestinian declaration of independence. That step was temporarily averted when Palestinian Authority (PA) ra'is Arafat postponed his May 4 declaration until after the Israeli election that month and then, following the signing of the Sharm el-Sheikh accord with the new government of Ehud Barak, until September 13, 2000. Today, May 4 is no longer a critical date on the calendar of Palestinian national aspirations. Yet, it does remain an important milestone for those committed to developing a more representative, democratic, and accountable PA. And more so than is commonly recognized, that process in turn is likely to have a significant impact on the prospects for an eventual Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Arab Countries
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 04-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: With Israeli-Palestinian peace talks getting underway in Eilat this weekend, the Middle East seems to be switching peace tracks yet again. After President Bill Clinton held separate White House meetings with Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Yasir Arafat earlier this month, State Department spokesman James Rubin said, "In our judgment, the next six to eight weeks could well be a decisive phase in the pursuit of peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis. . . . That phase obviously is now including a more intensive American involvement." This shift—after several months of focusing on Syria talks—does not necessarily mean that the Syrian track can be considered dead and buried (and indeed Arab leaders such as Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah are said to be quietly seeking to revive that track). Yet, operationally, it means that the United States and Israel will no longer wait for Syria as they revive the Palestinian track and plan for Israel's pullback from Lebanon in July.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Arab Countries, Saudi Arabia, Syria
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 04-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The withdrawal of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) from southern Lebanon announced by Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak looms large. Set for July 7, this withdrawal is closely linked to the Syrian track of negotiations. It will end the fifteen-year status quo of the security zone, with Israel planning to defend itself from the international border with Lebanon. The target date is also a deadline for the negotiations with the Syrians, as nine years after the peace conference in Madrid we are likely to witness either a breakthrough or a breakdown.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Arab Countries, Lebanon, Syria
  • Author: Robert Satloff
  • Publication Date: 03-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: President Clinton's trip to Geneva on Sunday to meet Syrian leader Hafiz al-Asad begins the last leg of the administration's eight-year marathon effort to broker an elusive Syrian-Israeli peace agreement. The stakes, however, are higher than just Clinton's peacemaking legacy. While most observers believe that Syria and Israel are just a whisker away from peace, the two countries are also not much further away from conflict and perhaps war. Within days, the countdown to one of those outcomes will be clear.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Geneva, Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Arab Countries, Syria
  • Author: Marshall Breger, George Weigel
  • Publication Date: 03-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Historically the Vatican's view of Israel and Zionism was negative. The Vatican explicitly told Herzl that that the Jews were meant to wander, and if they set foot on Palestinian soil the Christians would be there to convert them. The main concern of the Catholic Church regarding the Holy Land has long been to maintain the status quo of the Catholic holy places. For many years, the Church supported the creation of Jerusalem as an entity independent from the surrounding states—a corpus separatum. But in the 1970s, the Vatican spoke instead of international guarantees for the holy places, an idea that remains Vatican policy today.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Jerusalem, Arab Countries, Vatican city
  • Author: Alan Makovsky, Cengiz Candar, Efraim Inbar
  • Publication Date: 03-2000
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The emergence of close Israeli-Turkish relations is one of the significant strategic developments in the post-Cold War Middle East. These ties are likely to flourish as long as Israel and Turkey remain pro-Western, anti-Islamic fundamentalist, and compatible in military inventory. Turkish-Israeli ties should be described as a "strategic relationship," not as an alliance. Turkey and Israel are not obligated or likely to go to war if the other is attacked. They also have somewhat differing threat perceptions regarding Syria, Iraq, and Iran.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Israel, Arabia, Arab Countries, Syria
  • 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: 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