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Press Release
Contact Information: Hussein Ibish
July 15, 2009 - 12:00am

On July 13, the United States Institute for Peace (USIP) hosted an event titled “New Hope for Peace, What America Must Do to End the Israel-Palestine Conflict,” featuring Dr. Ziad Asali, President of the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP). The event was divided into three segments, the first being the screening of Landrum Bolling’s new short film in which he discusses the Israel-Palestinian conflict with former US President Jimmy Carter, former Secretary of State James Baker and former National Security Advisors Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brezinski. During the film, Bolling asked the speakers to examine a number of different aspects of the conflict, specifically the role and extent of American involvement in the conflict. All of the speakers advocated a strong US leadership role and argued for the need for the US to be much more aggressive in trying to broker a deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians. The speakers also applauded Obama for engaging in this issue early in his administration, and not waiting until the end of it, a move the speakers criticized the previous two administrations of. Furthermore, one of the main ideas within the film was the idea that for the peace process to work, all parties need to be in communication with each other and all parties need to have a strong leadership that can handle the responsibility of creating a lasting and viable peace agreement.

The second portion of the event was a panel discussion moderated by The Honorable Samuel L. Lewis, former US ambassador to Israel. The speakers included Dr. Asali, Jonathan Schanzer, author of the new book Hamas vs. Fatah: The Struggle for Palestine, and Toni Verstandig, Senior Policy advisor at the Center for Middle East Peace. The panelists discussed and debated the perspectives and ideas expressed by the speakers in the film, notably the idea expressed by former President Jimmy Carter of the “inevitability” of peace in the Middle East. Dr. Asali drew attention to the fact that the vast majority of people now want peace and agreed that its arrival may therefore be seen as inevitable. Ms. Verstandig argued that bold new American leadership was facilitating the peace process in an unprecedented way. Another major point of discussion was the idea presented in the film concerning the need for open dialogue between all parties. Schanzer questioned whether or not there is a viable Palestinian partner for peace, but Asali pointed out that Israel already has a peace interlocutor in the PLO, which has negotiated agreements with Israel. He said that the “no partner” argument is an excuse for ducking negotiations. Asali, Lewis and Verstandig all agreed that a freeze to Israeli settlement activity is essential for any progress towards peace, while Schanzer said that the issue is not important since Israel can evacuate settlements in the future.


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