U.S. Policy towards Israel-Palestine, 2006-2008: Expectations and Recommendations

January 23, 2007, 8:31 pm

The American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) held a briefing at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C., ‘U.S. Policy Towards Israel-Palestine: 2006-2008, Expectations and Recommendations.' The briefing featured 3 speakers giving the Palestinian, Israeli and American perspectives on the issue: Ghaith Al-Omari, Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation; Dr. Alon Ben-Meir, Professor of International Relations and Middle Eastern Studies at New York University; and Dr. Aaron David Miller, Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Dr. Alon Ben-Meir viewed the violence & outcome of the past 6 years as a result of the negligence of the Bush administration in addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He saw no evidence that Hamas was moderating and as a result Israel was right not to work with Hamas on any level. Ben-Meir emphasized the importance of appointing a high-level U.S. envoy that had the full support of the President and that stayed in the Middle East. He noted that the high turnover rate of U.S. Mideast envoys during the Bush administration had resulted in inconsistent views and negotiating.

Ben-Meir urged the United States to use its influence with Israel to moderate Israeli policy, especially in the Occupied Territories. This should be done in conjunction with empowering Abbas through political, economic, and military support. On the diplomatic level, Ben-Meir called for a renewed multi-lateral approach to the conflict that included the E.U, Russia and the UN. He noted that the engagement of Saudi, Egypt, and Jordan had made it clear that the Arab world supports the two state solution.

Finally, Ben-Meir emphasized the emotional resonance of the Palestine issue to over 1 billion Arabs and Muslims who viewed the U.S. ‘through the prism of the Palestine issue.' While he agreed that there was no direct linkage between the Palestine issue and other Mideast problems such as Iraq, Ben-Meir stressed that a positive U.S. role in Israel/Palestine would greatly enhance the U.S. image and consequently diplomacy in the region.

American Task Force on Palestine, Washington DC.

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