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Contact Information: Hussein Ibish
April 27, 2009 - 12:00am

On April 21, ATFP Senior Fellow Hussein Ibish debated the Dallas regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, Mark L. Briskman, on the future of peace and conflict between Israel and the Palestinians at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Ibish emphasized the strong need both parties have for a peace agreement and the important role the Obama administration should play in helping them move forward. Ibish said the conflict was driven by the occupation and that ending it was the key to any viable peace agreement. Mr. Briskman maintained that the essential problem was the lack of an effective and committed Palestinian leadership.

Key elements of disagreement included whether or not Israeli settlement activity is a real obstacle to peace. Ibish maintained that settlements make reaching an agreement more difficult, increase the constituency in Israel that resists making an agreement, and undermine Palestinian and Arab confidence in Israel’s intentions. Mr. Briskman insisted that the settlements issue is “a strawman” because the conflict predates the settlements and because settlements can, and in the case of a peace agreement, will be removed. The two speakers also disagreed about the relationship between the Roadmap of the Quartet and the Annapolis Agreement. Mr. Briskman argued that under Phase One of the roadmap, Palestinian security performance had to first be secured before Israeli responsibilities regarding a settlement freeze became operative, and that the problem with the Annapolis Agreement is that it makes the two functions simultaneous. Ibish disagreed, saying that it was impossible to read the roadmap as not involving simultaneous and reciprocal Phase One responsibilities regarding security and a settlement freeze, and argued that what Annapolis did in fact was to revise the four phase staggered process of the Roadmap with a process that would deal with confidence building measures and final status issues at the same time rather than leaving final status issues to some eventual stage.

Both speakers expressed a commitment to a two-state end-of-conflict agreement that ends the occupation and allows for the creation of a Palestinian state to live alongside Israel in peace and security.


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