Searching for a Path Toward Peace–CMEP bulletin
Dear Mr. President
The state of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations is in flux as Prime Minister Netanyahu weighs his government’s response to major changes underway in Arab countries and the increasing impatience of European governments with the stalled negotiations with Palestinians. The United States for now is focusing efforts on the collective diplomacy of the Middle East Quartet (the U.S., EU, UN, and Russia), though the Quartet meeting scheduled for March has now been postponed until April.
In the context of this uncertainty, Churches for Middle East Peace sent an open letter to President Obama this week signed by 20 national church leaders urging him to take bold action in concert with the Quartet and other stakeholders to reduce the fear and mistrust that has prevented an agreement, promote readiness of the two sides to reach a deal, and travel to the region soon to propose specific steps to achieve peace. The letter also expressed regret at the U.S. veto of a resolution on Israeli settlement activity in the UN Security Council last month.
Middle East Quartet Meeting Delayed
The Middle East Quartet announced on March 10 that it will not meet as planned during next week’s G20 summit in Paris, but will instead meet at a later date in April. A scheduled meeting of Israeli and Palestinian experts this week did not take place.
However, the Jerusalem Post and others have speculated that the postponement is intended to give Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu further time to prepare a “bold” new peace initiative. Netanyahu has probably not yet decided whether to present plans for a comprehensive agreement or more limited temporary measures. Many analysts are expecting the latter course of action, but the Prime Minister is being pulled in opposite directions by the international community and the right-wing members of his own party and constituency.
As the Los Angeles Times reported on March 11, polls released this month show that Netanyahu’s approval rating has dropped to 32% and that more Israelis now support the centrist Kadima party than Netanyahu’s more conservative Likud party.
Other items in this CMEP bulletin include:
- Britain ramps up pressure on Israel
- Barak: Israel to seek $20 billion more in aid
- Funding fears
- Talking to Congress
- Register for the CMEP Advocacy Conference
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