Structural Flaws in the Middle East Peace Process: Historical Contexts

Structural Flaws in the Middle East Peace Process: Historical Contexts

Structural Flaws in the Middle East Peace Process: Historical Contexts

Structural Flaws in the Middle East Peace Process: Historical Contexts

Synopsis

Negotiations between Israel and the Arab states have continued in several forms for over a decade, through three Israeli administrations, the death of a King in Jordan, and through countless riots and incidences of protest by Palestinians and Jews. The agreements that have been reached, and some situations established by defacto rule and force majure, have created possibly irreversible economic and political structures. This collection presents a debate among eminent scholars and public officials over the power these structures engender in the region.

Excerpt

For nearly 40 years I have been involved in political negotiations between Americans, Israelis and Palestinians, but 25 years ago, along with Charles H. Percy, Adlai E. Stevenson iii, Mark Hatfield, George McGovern and J. William Fulbright, and Representatives Paul N. ‘Pete’ McClosky, Nick Joe Rahall, and Walter Fauntroy, I lobbied President Jimmy Carter for a change in the us position regarding the Palestinian situation. He decided to break the ‘no-talk’ policy he had inherited and I supported his efforts by being an unofficial liaison with Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) president, Yasser Arafat, and his staff. Since official negotiations with the Palestinians were not permitted, us diplomats pursued negotiations via talks with Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin. We hoped Egypt's recognition of Israel would soften hostilities between Arabs and Israelis.

Fortunately, others in the Carter Administration also saw advantage in changing us positions toward both Israel and the plo. On the political side, Cyrus Vance maintained secret contacts in Beirut with plo officials during the Iran hostage crisis, and he found Yasser Arafat's efforts to help free the hostages encouraging. On the economic side, Robert Straus, while serving as President Carter's special envoy to the Middle East, also wanted to meet with Chairman Arafat. Straus had a particularly strong interest in discussing the uses of trade as an incentive for peace. Had he been authorized to use his influence as a former chair of the National Democratic Council and his prominent positions in many powerful Jewish organizations and trade groups, he could have done much to advance the Peace Process. the result of our efforts was the Camp David Accords, an agreement which defused tensions between Egypt and Israeli, but that did not set a compete foundation for a broader regional peace.

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