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In-Depth Coverage
West Bank/Gaza
Middle East Peace Process
U.S. Middle East Policy
Original Commentaries
12/22/10
The Critical Role of Palestinian State-Building  —
12/06/10
Examining the P5+1-Iran Talks in Context  —Karim Sadjadpour, associate, Middle East Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Interview with Middle East Bulletin
12/01/10
Egyptians and Jordanians Head to the Polls  —
Setting the Record Straight
Determined to Reach a Common Objective
“We knew at the outset that the task would be difficult. We acknowledged that publicly and privately. We knew this would be a road with many bumps— and there have been many bumps—and that continues to this day. But we are not deterred. We are, to the contrary, determined more than ever to proceed to realize the common objective, which we all share, of a Middle East that is at peace with security and prosperity for the people of Israel, for Palestinians, and for all the people in the region. We will continue our efforts in that regard, undeterred and undaunted by the difficulties, the complexities or the bumps in the road.”—George Mitchell, special envoy for Middle East peace, remarks with Prime Minister Netanyahu, September 29, 2010
Middle East Analysis
Netanyahu’s Moves Spark Debate on Intentions — Ethan Bronner (The New York Times)
Palestinian Dream City Hits Snag From Israel — Ben Hubbard (The Associated Press)
No to a Third Intifada — Hussein Ibish, senior fellow, American Task Force on Palestine (Common Ground News Service)
Upcoming Events
The Road Forward on Middle East Peace
Event: October 1, 2009 - 12:00pm-1:00pm
Introduction:
Winnie Stachelberg, Senior Vice President for External Affairs, Center for American Progress
Featured speaker:
Congressman Robert Wexler (D-FL)
Moderated by:
Moran Banai, U.S. Editor of Middle East Bulletin
WATCH HERE
Setting the Record Straight
Determined to Reach a Common Objective
Setting the Record Straight | Oct 13, 2010
“We knew at the outset that the task would be difficult. We acknowledged that publicly and privately. We knew this would be a road with many bumps— and there have been many bumps—and that continues to this day. But we are not deterred. We are, to the contrary, determined more than ever to proceed to realize the common objective, which we all share, of a Middle East that is at peace with security and prosperity for the people of Israel, for Palestinians, and for all the people in the region. We will continue our efforts in that regard, undeterred and undaunted by the difficulties, the complexities or the bumps in the road.”—George Mitchell, special envoy for Middle East peace, remarks with Prime Minister Netanyahu, September 29, 2010
Changing Iran’s Calculations
Setting the Record Straight | Oct 5, 2010
“President Obama says Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons is 'unacceptable,' but he appears resigned to the eventuality that the Islamic Republic will build a bomb.”
—Michael Rubin, resident scholar, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, “How Nukes Will Transform Iran,” August 15, 2010
“If the U.S., the UN, the EU, and other sanctions against Iran are properly enforced, Iran will essentially be unable to purchase vital parts for their refineries other than through the black market, as some of the equipment is available only through Western firms. We have seen numerous reports that Iran is beginning to feel the squeeze.”
—Howard L. Berman (D-CA), chairman, House Foreign Affairs Committee, remarks, “Iran: Addressing the Nuclear Threat,” Center of Strategic and International Studies, September 21, 2010
Despite Challenges, Peace is Possible
Setting the Record Straight | Sep 28, 2010
“The real danger between these two star-crossed inhabitants of the same Holy Land is not failure to negotiate; it’s the failure of the negotiations. Flashpoints in the Holy Land tend to burst after they sit down at the negotiating table, give their speeches, fail to agree, and watch the process collapse.”
—Leslie H. Gelb, president emeritus, Council on Foreign Relations, “Hillary’s Dangerous Mideast Leap,” The Daily Beast, September 15, 2010
“Let us direct our courage, our thinking, and our decisions at those historic decisions that lie ahead. Now, there are many skeptics. One thing there’s no shortage of, Mr. President, are skeptics. This is something that you’re so familiar with, that all of us in a position of leadership are familiar with. There are many skeptics. I suppose there are many reasons for skepticism. But I have no doubt that peace is possible.”
—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, remarks at the White House, September 1, 2010
Close But Frank Relationship
Setting the Record Straight | Sep 21, 2010
“In fact, a stronger AKP may be a threat to U.S policy toward Iran, Israel, the Palestinians, Lebanon, and Syria. Turkey’s opposition to the transfer of U.S. troops to Northern Iraq in the spring of 2003, its current support of Iran despite the UNSC sanctions, its launch of a flotilla to boost Hamas in Gaza, and its increasingly vituperative anti-Israeli policy are signs that cannot be ignored.”
—Ariel Cohen, senior research fellow, The Heritage Foundation, “Turkey’s Referendum: A Looming Challenge to U.S. Interests?,” WebMemo #3016, September 17, 2010
“On Iran, we were clear publicly and privately with the Turkish government. We had exactly the same view on the desired outcome which was to prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon. We had significantly common views on how to get there including getting 1200 kilograms of uranium, LEU, out of Iran and holding it potentially in Turkey which is a scenario we supported. Then we had some differences on exactly the criteria that would have to be met for this to be useful. We were clear with the Turkish government about that. Then when the Turkish government and the Brazilian government reached the Tehran Declaration we didn’t think it met those criteria and they did. We were frank with them and they were frank with us in just the way—that’s all governments can do.

“Similarly on the other issues you mentioned, Hamas and the flotilla, we’ve had our differences. We’ve been clear about them in public and in private, but I can tell you that there’s not a government in Europe with which we have more ongoing and open dialogue than with the government of Turkey. Secretary Clinton speaks regularly with Foreign Minister Davutoglu. President Obama, I think regularly is probably the right word for his engagements with Prime Minister Erdogan.”
—Phillip H. Gordon, assistant secretary of state, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, "2010 Transatlantic Trends Report," remarks at the German Marshall Fund, September 15, 2010
Government Reforms Instill Confidence
Setting the Record Straight | Sep 14, 2010
“So if you look at fiscal operations, you look at security cooperation, yes, institutions are being built. The economy is in a sense reviving or I would say recovering. It is recovering based on two things, number one the security cooperation makes possible a degree of movement in the West Bank that allows for the reemergence of economic activity, and second ... the tremendous influx of international assistance. The economy is reviving, not because of brilliant economic management or because of institution building but simply recovery from some of the fiscal and economic problems caused by the intifada years.”
—Nathan Brown, nonresident senior associate, Middle East Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, event, "Divided Palestine-A Barrier to Peace," Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, July 21, 2010
“In 2009 the macroeconomic situation continued to improve in the West Bank, but in Gaza conditions remain difficult due to the blockade. In the West Bank, three key factors contributed to continued strong growth performance. First, private sector confidence has been bolstered by the Palestinian Authority (PA)’s track record in institution-building and reforms in particular in the security, public finance, and governance areas. Second,
these reforms have been supported by generous donor budgetary aid, equivalent to about 22 percent of GDP in 2009. Third, some restrictions on movement and access have been relaxed, especially on movement of goods and people between major urban centers in the West Bank.”
—International Monetary Fund, “Macroeconomic and Fiscal Framework for the West Bank and Gaza: Fifth Review of Progress,” April 13, 2010
Eye Still on the Ball
Setting the Record Straight | Aug 10, 2010
“Adverse developments in Iraq will be (and will look to be) increasingly a function of the Obama Team taking their eye off of the ball and rushing to declare mission accomplished. Yes, in such a scenario the Iraqis should bear most of the blame, but the part that is due to U.S. action or inaction will be Obama's responsibility. And it will matter. Iraq is at the center of a region that every president since Jimmy Carter has identified as vital to our national security. Iraq is next door to, and the playground for mischief from, the most thorny national security challenge the United States faces: a nuclear-weapons-seeking Iranian regime. These inconvenient facts mean that if the Iraqi situation demands more focused and costly U.S. attention, it will likely get it. At that point, what sort of domestic coalition will be available for President Obama's Iraq policy?”
—Peter Feaver, director, Triangle Institute for Security Studies; former director for defense policy and arms control, National Security Council, “Obama’s Iraq Speech: Another Missed Opportunity,” Foreign Policy, August 3, 2010
“Iraq is a strategically important place in the Middle East, just by its geographic location, by its population, by the influence it's had in the Middle East for a long time. So neighboring countries from around the Middle East have an interest inside of Iraq.

“But I will tell you that I think Iraqis themselves are nationalistic in nature, and that's why it's important. A strong Iraq will defend itself against interference from outside countries, and I think as we build a strong Iraq and as we continue to build a strong security mechanism and as we continue to help them economically and diplomatically, that will make it less likely of others from the outside being able to interfere.

“Now, for the vacuum as we see today, again, I remind everyone is that we still have a significant presence here, and we are not going to—we will not allow undue maligned influence on the Iraqi government as they attempt to form their government. What we're trying to do is provide them the space and time for them to do that, and we will continue to do that post 1 September. We'll still have a significant civilian presence, and again, we'll still have 50,000 troops on the ground here to ensure that this government can be formed by the Iraqis. And that all the other nations respect their sovereignty as they go about forming their government.”
—General Ray Odierno, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, interview, “This Week” with Christiane Amanpour, August 8, 2010
Alliance Based on Shared Interests
Setting the Record Straight | Aug 3, 2010
“Prime Minister Erdogan, and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) have changed Turkey fundamentally. They do not simply seek good relations with their Arab neighbors and Iran. Instead, they favor the most radical elements in regional struggles, hence their embrace of Syria over Lebanon and of Hamas over Fatah, and their endorsement Iran’s nuclear program. ...

“For too long, American diplomats and officials in both the Barack Obama and George W. Bush administrations have been in denial: They have embraced Turkey as they wished it to be rather than calibrate policy to the reality of what Turkey has become. This is neither realism nor the basis of sound foreign policy.”
—Michael Rubin, senior fellow, American Enterprise Institute, hearing, “Turkey’s New Foreign Policy Direction: Implications for U.S.-Turkish Relations,” House Foreign Affairs Committee, July 28, 2010.
“We hear a lot these days about Turkey’s so-called drift from the West, drift from democracy, drift from secularism. But that’s not surprising because there are multiple agendas at play in the world today. Some raise fears about the so-called Islamist influence, they speak of losing Turkey, as if Turkey were about to spawn a new caliphate and destroy the Christian West. How absurd. The fact is that the United States and Turkey have cultivated a long-term, solid relationship that has been critical in support of American national interests, as well as Turkey’s. ...

“Absent Turkey, Iran would be a hegemon in a region where the United States has vital national interests. The alliance will persist because it’s in our interests and it’s also in Turkey’s interests. Of course, there are changes ongoing in Turkey, and in its relationship with its neighbors. ...

“The simple fact is that the alliance between America and Turkey has served our national interests for over 60 years, and let’s not delude ourselves: we need Turkey and Turkey needs us.”
—Congressman Bill Delahunt (D-MA), hearing, “Turkey’s New Foreign Policy Direction: Implications for U.S.-Turkish Relations,” House Foreign Affairs Committee, July 28, 2010.
A Broad-Based Partnership
Setting the Record Straight | Jul 27, 2010
“We know that there is a perception held by too many Pakistanis that America’s commitment to them begins and ends with security. But in fact, our partnership with Pakistan goes far beyond security. It is economic, political, educational, cultural, historical, rooted in family ties. That this misperception has persisted for so long tells us we have not done a good enough job of connecting our partnership with concrete improvements in the lives of Pakistanis. And with this dialogue, we are working very hard to change that perception and to deliver results that truly have the concrete effects we are seeking.”
—Hillary Clinton, secretary of state, opening remarks, U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue, July 19, 2010
Special Relationship Unchanged
Setting the Record Straight | Jul 20, 2010
“Even if we still need the billions in military aid, the markets, and the ammunition provided by the U.S., and even if our international isolation is growing—we can no longer rely on U.S. support. …"Obama presses the State of Israel to freeze all construction in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, and to accept dictates that will lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state in the heart of the country. In exchange he will be willing to provide us with guarantees on safeguarding our security and our technological advantage, and on demilitarizing the Palestinian state. Yet why should anyone in Israel be willing to assume existential risks while relying on the pledge of U.S. president who betrayed and denied all the pledges made by his predecessors, while also forgetting his own explicit commitments?”
—Aryeh Eldad, member of Israeli Knesset (National Union), “Time for Reassessment,” YNet, July 6, 2010
“I can tell you there is a consistent line. And all U.S. presidents, from everyone that I met including President Obama, share what the president called the basic bedrock of this unbreakable bond between Israel and the United States.

“Israeli prime ministers are also different. Each one of us is different. But we all value the relationship with the United States enormously. Enormously. I think America has no better friend and ally than Israel in the world, and I'm sure that Israel has no better friend and ally than the United States.”
—Benjamin Netanyahu, prime minister of Israel, interview, Fox News Sunday, July 11, 2010
 
Isolating Hamas Should Not Mean Isolating the People of Gaza
Setting the Record Straight | Jun 15, 2010
The history of blockades by free nations is an honorable one. Israel’s blockade of Hamas-run Gaza—a blockade that … permits the delivery of humanitarian and civilian aid—stands in that tradition. It preserves a tenuous peace in the short run. And it may result in the liberation of Palestinians from Hamas’s dictatorship, and prevent their exploitation by a terror-supporting Iranian regime, in the longer run.”
—William Kristol, editor, The Weekly Standard, op-ed, “In Praise of Blockades,”
Well, it's precisely the limitations of that [Gaza] policy that are now apparent. And what people like myself have been arguing for, now for the best part of two years, is that it is, of course, right that we make huge progress on the West Bank … but it's always been a mistaken belief that you push ahead in the West Bank and leave Gaza completely isolated. In the end, what you have to do is, even with the problems there with Hamas, you have to bring people in Gaza to understand that there is an alternative, it is a better way forward. But if they become completely isolated, the danger is not that they turn then towards a more sensible, more moderate path. The danger is then that extremism grows.”
—Tony Blair, representative of the Middle East Quartet and former British prime minister, interview with Fareed Zakaria, CNN, June 6, 2010 
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