Image Gallery
Press Release
Contact Information: Hussein Ibish
November 24, 2009 - 1:00am

On Saturday, October 24, ATFP Senior Fellow Hussein Ibish moderated a panel on the two state solution between Israel and the Palestinians at the 11th international conference of The Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF). Panelists in the discussion were Dr. James Zogby, President of the Arab American Institute (AAI), and Paul L. Scham, Esq., Executive Director of the Gildenhorn Institute for Israel Studies at the University of Maryland and Adjunct Scholar at the Middle East Institute.

All three panelists agreed that a two-state scenario is the only realistic prospect for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and that all other proposals including a single state for all Israelis and Palestinians are unrealistic and unachievable. None of the three described themselves as optimistic, but all insisted on the need to persist with diplomatic efforts in spite of doubts about the commitment to a two-state peace agreement on the part of the current Israeli government and the political rift among Palestinians between Hamas in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

Dr. Zogby suggested that without some kind of dramatic transformation of the political and diplomatic landscape serious progress is unlikely in the coming months, but strongly praised efforts by the Obama administration. He said that Special Envoy George Mitchell was applying similar tactics in this context to the ones he employed during the Northern Ireland peace talks in which he essentially allowed the two sides to vent their frustrations until the point that they could actually begin to hear each other's perspectives.

Mr. Scham emphasized the extent to which Israelis and Palestinians no longer trust each other, and that while majorities on both sides believe they are committed to a two state agreement they also are convinced that the other party is not. He suggested that the Obama administration should do more to reassure the Israeli public that the United States remains committed to its security and survival, and begin to explore ways in which Israelis and Palestinians can be convinced of each others sincerity.

Dr. Ibish suggested that the Obama administration was preparing and had always anticipated the potential need for a long campaign of extremely slow and incremental progress, and emphasized that determination the administration has demonstrated and the extraordinarily early focus on the Middle East diplomacy by the President personally at the very outset of his administration.


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