Former Israeli Foreign Minister Calls for Ceasefire, Palestinian Unity Government



Shlomo Ben-Ami, as Israel’s Foreign Minister, led peace negotiations with the Palestinian Liberation Organization under Prime Minister Ehud Barak, culminating in the Camp David Summit. And ever since he’s maintained an active profile and is utilized as a source of fresh thinking on various informal security policy planning exercises.
The former Foreign Minister recently penned an op-ed in the Lebanon Star making the controversial case for what Israel needs to do to revive the Annapolis process:

Israel must change its strategic objective in Gaza from toppling Hamas to rescuing the Annapolis process, and with it the last chance for a two-state solution. This requires not only a cease-fire with Hamas, but also a return to a Palestinian national unity government that alone can offer the peace process the vital legitimacy that it lacks today. Without the resurrection of the Mecca agreement, which put Hamas and the Palestine Liberation Organization in a coalition government, Hamas cannot expect to secure its control of Gaza and the PLO cannot deliver a peace settlement with Israel.
The notion, dear to the architects of the Annapolis process, that peace can be achieved only when a wedge is driven between Palestinian “moderates” and “extremists” is a misconception. A Palestinian national-unity government would not impede a settlement for the simple reason that the moderates now negotiating with Israel must in any case strive for an agreement that the extremists could not label as a treacherous sell-out. Hence, the difference between the Palestinian positions in the current negotiations and those they may hold when a unity government is restored would only be very minor.

I think Ben-Ami is on to something but the crucial factors that can derail such an approach constantly loom large — sequencing, coordination, synchronicity, and spoilers — some of which Hussein Agha and Robert Malley wrote about in the Washington Post back in January.
Ben-Ami will discuss a number of these issues he raises in the article — as well as the broader regional dimensions and the role of the United States — tomorrow ay 9:30am at the New America Foundation at 1630 Connecticut Ave, NW 7th Floor. Further details can be found here and if you’d like to attend, you can send an email to .
–Sameer Lalwani


5 comments on “Former Israeli Foreign Minister Calls for Ceasefire, Palestinian Unity Government

  1. Carroll says:

    I don’t see this as terribly new….other non lunatic Israel supporters have said the same thing,
    And…er it’s always just talk and goes no where,
    Besides, for the past three years Hamas has offered Israel a cease fire half a dozen times and Israel rejected it.
    Not to mention this week’s news that Isr is going ahead with 750 new houses in the settlemet portion of Jerusalem despite the US, UN and everyone else calling it…”not helpful”…LOL
    What’s the name of that movie?…The Long Goodby?
    For Israel it’s titled the Never Ending Goodby.


  2. JohnH says:

    If only Ben-Ami could be successful. Unfortunately, he represents the looney logical fringe of Israeli politics, so he’ll be slapped back into place by the ideologues soon enough. Also, his timing is terrible: he should have waited for somebody competent to appear at Foggy Bottom before proposing anything reasonable.


  3. Mr.Murder says:

    The main problem with the region is that so many possible rivalries overlap and compete for a stake in shaping how things come out.
    Palestinian issues have strained from the gerrymander status of groups within its substructure. These can be played vs. other rivals in Gaza, etc. Israel has plausibly supported elements of this in the past.
    Neighboring Lebanon ties directly into these actions as part of a regional strategy.
    Attempts to placate Sinai/Egypt, factions within Palestine and Gaza, and Lebanon’s influence from Iran, the major player who just bought greater presence on their meeting with Iraq’s leader.
    There’s an increased American presence there, there’s world concern on energy stakes there, there’s a lame duck President in America. These times are usually the best to get an agreement signed, when major parties have the fewest possible political repercussions at stake. They can sacrifice some of their position for the sake an accord.
    It’s too bad a major economic lobby blocked the same item as Clinton’s days in office were ending and Arafat was given reasons to avoid agreement. All when he was perhaps the one voice to give it the kind of endorsement that the world would take at value.


  4. downtown says:

    Doesn’t this gentleman know that making such statements is frowned upon by the American Media. Hillary Clinton will offer a rebuttal in 17 minutes.


  5. Mr.Murder says:

    He’s getting in front of things. There’s an extra carrier in the region for a reason. He’s using the leverage to advance a peace proposal.
    The extent to which this will be a hedge or lever vs. Iran’s spreading influence as a proxy and client to China remains to be seen.
    They’ve already seen Iran and Iraq agree on items of recent. Our side is still on the outside looking in, no matter how they’d like to say otherwise. This is a legitimate effort to get back to terms we could consider insider status.
    It took an accomplished diplomat to create this opportunity within the leadership void our State department currently suffers from.


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