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Press Release
Contact Information: Hussein Ibish
December 19, 2006 - 1:00am

Washington, D.C., December 20 -- Yesterday a panel discussion cosponsored by the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) discussed the prospects for implementing the Iraq Study Group's recommendations for renewed negotiations to resolve outstanding issues, such as ending the occupation, between Israel and the Palestinian people, as well as with Syria and Lebanon. The event, entitled "After the Iraq Study Group Report: Possibilities For A Comprehensive Arab-Israeli Peace On All Fronts," was cosponsored by the Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP).

FMEP President Ambassador Philip C. Wilcox, Jr. welcomed attendees to the luncheon discussion, followed by ATFP President Dr. Ziad Asali who just returned from a tour of the Middle East that focused on communicating the urgent need to establish a Palestinian state as the key to peace and stability. Dr. Asali summarized that the political landscape in the region has changed after the onset of the Iraq war and emphasized the indispensable role of the United States in bringing Palestinians and Israelis together to conduct serious negotiations. Dr. Asali also stated that Israel must end its occupation of Palestinian territories not only for the sake of the Palestinians but because the national interests and security of the United States and Israel are at stake. In conclusion, Dr. Asali stressed the immediate need for the U.S. and the "Quartet" to implement previous agreements, to include the Arab initiative and the Roadmap for peace.

Americans for Peace Now Spokesman Ori Nir welcomed the Iraq Study Group's recommendation for the Bush Administration to initiate Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Arab political negotiations towards the achievement of a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace, although he remained skeptical that the Administration would adopt most of the Report's recommendations. In addition, he urged the Bush administration to adopt a new approach, similar to several recommendations of the Report, toward Arab-Israeli peacemaking and launch a serious initiative to restore diplomatic progress. Speaking in his personal capacity, he decried the pattern whereby some pro-Israel organizations invariably move to politically block any sign of progress on negotiations, and questioned if this kind of support is really helpful to the Israelis.

Geoffrey Aronson, FMEP Director of Research and Publications, who also recently returned from the Palestinian territories, stressed the lack of serious diplomatic efforts to turn the international consensus for renewed negotiations into practical measures. The final panelist, Daniel Levy from the International Crisis Group, echoed Dr. Asali's sentiments on the changing political landscape in the region and hailed the Iraq Study Group Report as a serious effort to help calm violence in the region as well as to identify a serious way forward in regional political negotiations. However, Mr. Levy questioned the extent to which there might be constituencies for promoting rather than resolving conflicts in the present US and Israeli administrations that would block progress on peace and prefer to maintain or exacerbate conflicts.

NOTE: A video of this panel will be broadcast on C-SPAN at 2:20 pm on Wednesday, December 20.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017