Sunday, August 19, 2007

Churches for Middle East Peace - Will a Reinvigorated Peace Process Emerge this Fall?

Churches for Middle East Peace -

August Info Update
Will a Reinvigorated Peace Process Emerge this Fall?

August 8, 2007
Julie Schumacher Cohen, Legislative Coordinator

The August issue of CMEP's Info Update focuses on recent regional developments and prospects for the fall peace summit to create a reinvigorated Israeli-Arab peace process. The topic areas include background on the summit, an update on Israeli-Palestinian bi-lateral talks, the status of the Arab League peace plan, new plans for US Middle East funding, the new Evangelical initiative on Israeli-Palestinian peace and Jerusalem news.

The Jerusalem news section is of special note as it includes excerpts from and links to the August 13th issue of America magazine (a national Catholic Jesuit weekly) which is entirely focused on Jerusalem. Contributors to the magazine issue include Fr. Drew Christiansen, S.J. (editor of America and member of CMEP's Leadership Council), Claudette Habesch from Caritas Jerusalem, former Israeli and Palestinian Geneva Accord negotiators Daniel Levy and Ghaith Al-Omari, and Rabbi Dr. Gerald M. Meister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel. The magazine issue can be viewed online on America's website (requires free registration) or in PDF format on CMEP's website.

Below is an excerpt from the update. It can be viewed in full on CMEP's website at:

Fall Peace Summit: Background, Interpretations and Reactions
Israeli-Palestinian Talks: Principles, Fundamentals or Final Status Issues?
Arab League Peace Plan Resurges: Arab Visits to Israel, US Support
Loans, Arms and Aid: New Plans for U.S.-Middle East Funding
Christian Peacemaking: Evangelical Leaders Write Pres. Bush Supporting Two-State Solution
Jerusalem News: Catholic Magazine Highlights City; Israeli & Palestinian Negotiators on Shared Sovereignty

Special Note: For weekly updates on Middle East developments, CMEP recommends the Middle East Bulletin, a publication of Middle East Progress (go to:

This summer has so far seen a flurry of discussion and dialogue about Middle East peace, including high-level US-Israeli-Arab meetings— a welcome change from last year this time when the region was aflame with the Hezbollah-Israel war. President Bush’s July 16th speech pledged anew U.S. support for a viable Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel and plans are afoot for a fall peace summit. The visit to Israel of Egyptian and Jordanian foreign ministers on behalf of the Arab League is notable and Secretary Rice’s trip, together with Secretary Gates, shows high-level U.S. commitment to U.S. goals in the region, at the same time as the Mideast Quartet’s envoy Tony Blair begins his new job. Indication that Saudi Arabia may attend the fall peace summit brings added significance to the initiative.

These are welcome developments coming at a complex time with efforts to advance Israeli-Palestinian peace facing the challenges of a weak Israeli government and fractured Palestinian polity. The region overall is in as perilous a state as it has ever been. With chaos and violence continuing in Iraq, an increasingly emboldened Iran, weakened popular support for Arab regimes, and extremist elements ascendant, the announcement of a new U.S. Middle East arms/military aid package is evidence of continued over-reliance by the United States on military approaches to achieving security and stability. The Iraq Study Group’s recommendations— that the United States constructively engage with Iran and Syria together with moderate Arab allies, to induce cooperation on Iraq, and take serious action on the Israeli-Arab peace process— remain the best way forward for positive American involvement in the region.

The scope and content for the fall peace summit has still yet to be clearly defined. For the conference to have a meaningful impact, it’s vital that the agenda include serious political discussions that could concretely lay the groundwork for comprehensive negotiations. Only real progress on a political track that reinvigorates the peace process and provides hope to Israelis and Arabs can provide the lasting security that the region so desperately needs.

“One Last Try?”, M.J. Rosenberg, IPF (Israel Policy Forum) Friday, August 3, 2007

“In today’s Middle East, saving the key issues for last makes no sense. Tackle the big ones first, see how much progress can be made, and proceed from there. The bottom line is that the Arab-Israeli and Israeli-Palestinian situations are too volatile to spend time and effort on baby steps.”

“Turning theory into reality”, Daoud Kuttab, A Palestinian View,, July 23, 2007

“…What is needed is a reversal of the traditional peace process. If a new process is going to work, it must begin with the end game and then work its way toward implementation. After 40 years of occupation, the idea that progress can be achieved with goodwill gestures such as tiny prisoner releases and the removal of a few checkpoints is wildly misguided. The Arab peace initiative and a score of unofficial Israeli-Palestinian plans have focused on deciding first what the end game should be and then creating the process to suit the solution. The 1967 borders as the natural borders of the Palestinian state (with possible land swaps equal in size and quality) is a logical framework for the parties to accept. If the planned international conference does agree to such a clear-cut agreement, then the Bush administration may yet prove to have the potential to produce a lasting and comprehensive peace.

To read the update in its entirety, go to:

1 comment:

Alex said...

And what do you think of Obadiah Shoher's arguments against the peace process ( )?