New Approach to Middle East Peace Required


Daniel_Levy.jpgMy colleague Daniel Levy who directs the Middle East Task Force shared a useful line on Michele Kelemen‘s NPR show focusing on what now needs to be done regarding Israel-Palestine peace efforts. He said:

It’s difficult to be a friend of Arab democracy if you are perceived to be an enemy of Palestinian freedom.

Kelemen’s segment is important as it makes the key point that any further progress in Arab-Israeli peace is going to have to build in Arab public opinion.
From the transcript:

It can’t be business as usual, says Levy. The U.S., he says, can no longer rely on Egypt to back talks that were going nowhere, or to continue sealing off Gaza — the territory controlled by the Palestinian militant group Hamas. Levy says Egypt and Israel will have to find new ways to keep weapons out of Gaza without punishing Palestinians. He says this may be a chance to build on what he calls a “pyramid peace.”
“Until now, it was only the very tips of the two pyramids that had anything to do with each other on a very narrow, often security-interest related basis,” Levy says. “A democratic Egypt and a democratic Israel could have a much broader peace. You could get the bases of those two pyramids into the peace. But only if you can also do right by the Palestinians.”
He calls this a new era for U.S. peacemakers — an era when public opinion in the Arab world matters.

I agree — and I think that there are many in Israel who can get behind a reset in this process given what they see unfolding rapidly around them.
— Steve Clemons


10 comments on “New Approach to Middle East Peace Required

  1. Moshe Sharon says:

    An Arab from Gaza and a self-confessed member of
    Hamas once asked me,


  2. Cee says:

    Interesting article
    Rather than even listening to what the democracy youth in Tahrir Square were saying and then trying to digest what it meant, this Israeli government took two approaches during the last three weeks: Frantically calling the White House and telling the president he must not abandon Pharaoh


  3. Matthew says:

    This is just window dressing. The United States completed the process of its own delegitimization last Friday.
    After being exposed as a fraudulent “broker,” we cynically believe that a few speeches will win back trust. No way.


  4. Paul Norheim says:

    thanks for ignoring my comments for the last couple of
    weeks. It’s highly appreciated. I think this modus vivendi has
    worked well for both of us – it certainly has for me. I have
    nothing to add, except this kind request to continue to
    ignore my comments here.
    In return, I promise to ignore yours – to the benefit of The
    Washington Note comment section as a whole.


  5. DonS says:

    As in human relations, historical moments are not always timed conveniently, don’t exist in their inchoate potential for indefinite periods, and represent an opportunity for self-appraisal and bold moves leading to changes in direction that might not otherwise be obvious or possible. What is lacking is not the raw material, it is the creative imagination, statesmanship and willingness to risk. Israel’s future is bleak without important change of direction. Israel holds most of the current cards and it is beyond sad if their leadership has grown so calcified that they cannot grasp the significance of this moment.
    This is exactly the time to be thinking about ‘reset’ buttons.


  6. Paul Norheim says:

    I actually agree with some of WigWag’s points here. During
    the ongoing revolutions in the Middle East, I’ve often read
    statements like: “Now is the chance for Netanyahu to make
    peace with the Palestinians!”
    But this is a period of wait-and-see in that regard. I don’t
    think for a moment that Netanyahu sincerely wants
    something remotely resembling a mutually viable
    settlement of the conflict; he and his coalition government
    has other priorities. But frankly: even the most well-
    intended Israeli politician would be a fool if he tried to
    make peace with his adversaries during this volatile and
    unpredictable period of transitions and revolutions and
    military coups.
    That’s just a sad fact, and I’m surprised that anyone
    calling themselves “realists” waste their time suggesting a
    “reset” of the peace process in this turbulent period of


  7. DonS says:

    I agree with Levy’s assessment as far as it goes. But it seems almost magical thinking to apply the words “US peacemakers” when the US has been nothing if not complicit in the erection and maintenance of the architecture of feudal, autocratic repression in the ME, while simultaneously choking out insincere and inadequate words related to democratic aspirations.
    It is ironic, at best, to contemplate the irrelevance of the US with regard to shaping the events unfolding in the region. And rather infuriating to consider the military model of diplomacy that has passed for engagement over multiple administrations. The other shoe was bound to drop eventually; and the US is neither prepared, having thrown in our lot with the repressers — in order to obtain oil and Israel’s bloody-minded ‘security’ — nor seems to have much cared about preparing. In fact, “Arabism” has been virtually written out of polite company at DOS and elsewhere in Washington.
    As far as taking Arab opinion into account with regard to US involvement in any ‘peace process’, one wonders if the memo will get passed to Congressional enablers, and whether it will have any impact on their stultifying posture. Certainly, as far as the administration getting the message, last weeks’ veto at the UN doesn’t seem encouraging, notwithstanding the ‘signing statement’ reasserting international law on settlements (that we ignore in the breach). The American exceptionalist model, backed by the corporatist media, and the neocon policy apparatus that still controls the default position, seems ill prepared to shift ground quickly — except to find some new boogeyman.
    Anything, it seems, but the truth about the Potemkin edifice of the American policy establishment — a wholly owned PR operation of the M/I apparatus — will be given. So if Israel is going to push the ‘reset’ on peace they’d better get to it. The US, I say not entirely cynically, is waiting to be told how high to jump.
    Helena Cobban reflects on the veto, and other things:
    ” . . . the shameful decision by the Obama administration to veto last Friday’s Security Council resolution that condemned Israel’s continued settlement building program.
    “What on earth were they thinking?
    “Answer: They weren’t doing any real-world strategic “thinking”, as such. They were triangulating their chances of being able to retain AIPAC’s powerful financial-aid program through the next electoral cycle here in the U.S.


  8. WigWag says:

    “I agree — and I think that there are many in Israel who can get behind a reset in this process given what they see unfolding rapidly around them.” (Steve Clemons)
    I think Steve is right; there might very well be a “reset” in the peace process. But I very much doubt that it will be the “reset” that Steve and Daniel Levy are hoping for.
    The Israelis have already seen that withdrawing from conquered territory frequently leads to rockets flying their way from the land that they relinquished. This happened when they left Lebanon and Gaza.
    The only rational message that Israelis can take from the recent overthrow of Mubarak is that, at the very least, peace deals that they make with Arab governments are contingent on what government is in power at any given time. It is unclear whether a new Egyptian government will eschew the nation’s peace treaty with Israel, but it is reasonably possible that it will. If this is the case, what motivation does Israel have to make peace deals with Arabs? If relinquished territory only ends up as a launching pad for rockets or if new Arab governments refuse to live up to peace deals signed by their predecessors, why should Israel make these agreements in the first place?
    My guess is that there alot of people in Israel who are wondering if they wouldn’t be more secure right now with the IDF in the Sinai than they are with a peace treaty that the new Egyptian Government might not honor.
    Everything happening in the Middle East makes peace between the Palestinians and Israelis less likely not more likely.
    One particularly interesting aspect of the recent uprisings in the Islamic world is how focused they are on internal conditions not on the plight of the Palestinians. It is true that none of the demonstrators in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Tunisia, Jordan, Algeria, Bahrain or Iran are putting their lives on the line to make a statement about Palestinian rights.
    But it is also true that while a majority of citizens in those nations don’t consider the Palestinian situation to be a preeminent concern, a substantial minority of citizens in those nations, especially the devout ones, consider the Israeli presence in the Middle East to be an abomination. Nothing Israel does is going to change that including making a deal with the Palestinians that puts Israeli lives at risk.
    Israel is destined to be hated by a substantial portion of the Islamic world no matter what it does. Until Islam has its reformation and until the religious aspects of Islam are tamed and supplanted by a more secular orientation, devout Muslims (an increasing percentage of the Muslim world) will continue to believe that the dhimmi need to be subjugated. This is the reality of the neighborhood the Israelis live in. Reconciliation between Arabs and Jews in the foreseeable future is highly unlikely. Forging peace agreements with Arabs that the Arabs are unlikely to keep won


  9. Dan Kervick says:

    I confess to feeling more hopeful in the past few weeks about long-run progressive change. But I’m not feeling hopeful because I think the US government is on top of things. I’m hopeful instead because the US government is being shunted aside into lumbering-giant irrelevance as a number dynamic, creative and disruptive global events unfold among the world’s ordinary people. Washington has almost no influence over the direction of these events, yet is trying its darnedest to puff up its feathers and sound important. Lately, the US government just looks silly and pathetic. Real people are taking it upon themselves to build a new world on the ashes of the one that Washington and Wall Street helped kill, and that our leaders don’t even realize is probably already dead.
    The two warring political parties in the US are each engaged in a tag-team of ruthless class warfare against the majority of Americans. Each seems dedicated to preserving the privileges and economic prerogatives of elites, and destroying the American dream for the majority of Americans. Republicans are eager to remove all of the remaining legal impediments to unbridled exploitation and predation, and upward wealth redistribution. Democrats of the Obama-Clinton-Daley Third Way stripe take a more passive-aggressive approach toward screwing America’s workers and middle classes. They just want to drive down the wages and expectations of Americans so that the owners and top execs of our businesses can be left alone politically to enhance our global “competitiveness” on the backs of all of the people below them in the food chain.
    We have an President who has already raised the white flag in the face of the attacks from his corporate and financial bosses, who seems tired of governing, whose timid risk-aversion and denial lead him to try to stand in the middle of every road, and who seems more than resigned to hand everything off to the criminals, predators and morons who occupy our country’s greediest and most privileged echelons.
    So yes, I’m hopeful in the long run. But in the short term, it’s going to be quite a mess.


  10. DonsBlog says:

    It would be interesting to hear a Palestinian and Egyptian opinion on this. Those voices seem to rarely be published, on benefit of Al Jazeera getting a larger audience


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