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Analysis: Mideast Diplomacy Gets another Shot

Council on Foreign Relations

March 23, 2007
Prepared by: Eben Kaplan

After a strife-filled year of divided leadership, the Palestinian Authority has finally agreed to a unity government (al-Jazeera) in which rival political parties Hamas and Fatah will share power. On March 18, Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh outlined the new government’s platform, which says “ending the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories” is the key to security and stability in the region. Of course, negotiating with Israel is another matter. Israel released its own statement explaining that because the Palestinian government has not officially recognized Israel’s right to exist, renounced violence, or affirmed previous agreements, “Israel will not be able to work with the government or any of its ministers.” Israel will, however, continue to negotiate with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Enter U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, whose weekend trip to the region aims to advance the diplomatic process (WashPost), if only incrementally, by holding parallel talks with the Palestinian and Israeli camps. In splitting from Israel’s policy of isolating Palestinians, Rice exposes fissures between Washington and Jerusalem. The Washington Institute’s David Makovsky examines the implications for U.S.-Israeli cooperation.

Rice finds herself among the growing ranks of Western officials interested in negotiations with the Palestinian Authority—though not with members of the Hamas party—bringing to an end a yearlong diplomatic boycott (FT). (U.S. and Israeli officials did meet with President Abbas, but refused to meet representatives of the Hamas-led government.) An International Crisis Group report examines how to engage Hamas after its agreement with Fatah. Such diplomatic efforts leave Israel looking isolated (Guardian). An ISN Security Watch commentary describes Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s government as “rudderless.”


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Copyright 2007 by the Council on Foreign Relations. This material is republished on GlobalSecurity.org with specific permission from the cfr.org. Reprint and republication queries for this article should be directed to cfr.org.



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