Press Release
Contact Information: Ghaith al-Omari
March 21, 2009 - 12:00am

Washington, DC, March 21 – On Saturday, March 21st, ATFP President Ziad Asali participated in the Young Professionals in Foreign Policy’s Annual Conference and Career Expo entitled “The Future of Global Engagement.” The conference, which was hosted in partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, included 5 regional discussion group tracks which focused on Africa, Asia, Europe and Russia, the Middle East and Latin America.

For the discussion group track focused on the Middle East Asali joined Joseph Saba, Director, World Bank Unit for Strategic Cooperation and Technical Assistance in the Middle East and North Africa, Claude Salhani, Editor, Middle East Times and LTC William Wunderle, Political Military Planner, U.S. Department of Defense Joint Strategic Plans and Policy Directorate (J5) of the Joint Staff for a discussion entitled “Economic Development and the Legitimacy of Islamist Groups in the Middle East.” The group examined the conditions which produced economic development in the region. Specifically, the group addressed whether or not economic under-development drives support for Islamist groups.

Speaking about conditions in the occupied Palestinian Territories, Asali emphasized the importance of continued economic development in the West Bank and a quick reconstruction effort in the Gaza Strip, led by the Palestinian Authority. He added that improved security in the territories is essential to generate further economic investment and stability. Ultimately, Asali continued, improvements in development and security, along with a comprehensive settlement freeze, are necessary to create the conditions to continue meaningful and substantial talks towards a political settlement. Such a settlement must create a viable state of Palestine living side by side with Israel in peace and security. Asali concluded by warning that a failure to move on any of these fronts, specifically a faltering in peace negotiations, could lead to a wider regional destabilization.


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