• Israel, the PA, and the Inevitable Palestinian Spring

    While domestic and international media are abuzz with talk of upcoming elections in both the United States and Israel, scant attention has been paid to the municipal elections set to take place in the West Bank on October 20. In fact, many Palestinians are themselves unmoved by the prospect of elections, which they view as unlikely to effect any real change in their daily lives. Yet this tepid response may itself be significant for what it says about the Palestinian street’s current disillusionment with the Palestinian Authority (PA), whose legitimacy has long since begun to sag under the weight of corruption, economic mismanagement, and its conspicuous failure to secure Palestinian statehood.
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  • Roundtable with Governor Jihad Al-Wazir on the Palestinian Statehood Project and Economic Prospects

    On October 28, the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East hosted the Governor and Chairman of the Palestinian Monetary Authority, Jihad al-Wazir, to discuss the state of the Palestinian economy, the impact of the statehood initiative, and the role of the Palestinian Monetary Authority in navigating the unique challenges facing the West Bank and Gaza.

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  • Creeping Annexation

    In the perennial Palestinian-Israeli crisis, Barack Obama decided to enhance his 2012 re-election chances by giving his pro-Israel credentials a much-needed boost. By the same token Obama scuttled his chances of improving America's image in the Arab world.

    The Palestinians are no nearer to achieving statehood and U.N. membership. And the land for the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and East Jerusalem continues to shrink steadily as the ban on expanding Israeli settlements was lifted last spring.

    New Jewish settlements aren't authorized but the existing 141 Israeli settlements that house 320,000 in the West Bank -- and another 215,000 in East Jerusalem -- increase by several hundred dwellings at a time.

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  • US in a Bind Over Palestine's Bid for UN Recognition

    The Palestinian drive for statehood status at the United Nations injects new uncertainty into an already volatile Middle East, threatening to further isolate Israel and diminish already dwindling U.S. influence in the region.

    Barring some last-minute breakthrough that would revive negotiations or otherwise advance their national aspirations, Palestinian officials appear bent on seeking, at a minimum, recognition as a nonmember state from the U.N. General Assembly.

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  • What Palestine's UN Bid Means for Middle East Peace

    The Palestinian bid for statehood at this week’s United Nations General Assembly meeting could well trigger the perfect storm in the Middle East. As if the tempestuous relations between Israel and the Palestinians needed added turbulence, Turkey has entered the fray as the defender of the Palestinians and aspiring leader of the Arab-Islamic world. Increasingly marginalized in the Middle East, the United States, the erstwhile regional balancer, now faces a dilemma in part of its own making.

    Despite the last-minute efforts of American diplomatic envoys and the other three members of the so-called Middle East Quartet (the UN, the European Union, and Russia) Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has firmly declared his intention to seek full membership in the UN. His decision, which was immediately denounced by Israel, reflects his frustration with the deadlocked peace talks, which he said had reached a “dead end.”

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  • Palestinian Governance, Politics, and the Statehood Initiative

    A Palestinian delegation of diplomats and businessmen discussed the imminent Palestinian statehood bid at the United Nations in a September 9, 2011 roundtable co-hosted by the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East and International Security Program. Hariri Center director Michele Dunne moderated the discussion.

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  • The Goldstone Report and Israel-Palestine Peace

    Israel articulated three main objectives when it started its offensive against the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip last winter: stop the rocket fire into southern Israel, weaken the security infrastructure of Hamas in Gaza, and restore the deterrence that it felt had been lost after enduring years of rocket attacks, as well as the kidnapping of its soldier, Gilad Shalit.

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  • The Crisis Beyond Gaza

    The Israeli assault against Gaza grinds on. The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) has put dusty boots on the ground (it doesn’t rain enough for them to be muddy), and the bombing and shelling by both sides continue. Civilians, as is usually the case in this part of the world, bear the brunt of the suffering. In the end, it will end, and nothing appreciable will have been accomplished. Hamas will not be destroyed, and the Palestinians will still not have their demands met. Some things seem never to change.

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  • Transatlantic Divide on Israel Attacks in Gaza

    In a post titled "Transatlantic Differences," Alex Massie muses about how differently Americans would react than Brits to news that two members of the shadow cabinet of the conservative party had entered (separately) into homosexual civil unions.

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