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FT: Israel Must Set Out Its Parameters For Peace

May 22, 2011

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In this opinion piece for the Financial Times, Michael Herzog, a Fellow at the Washington Institute of Near East Policy, argues that if Israel wishes to garner international support it must outline its own peace initiative.

When Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu met in Washington last week, reports highlighted their differences. The US president laid out parameters for peace, ahead of the Israeli prime minister's speech to the US Congress this week. The result has seen an existing and dangerous deterioration in Israeli-Palestinian relations combine with a new rift with the US that Israel cannot afford.

Palestinians have just enacted their own version of the Arab Spring. In both the Fatah-controlled West Bank and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, thousands took to the streets demanding not liberty or reforms, but an end to their internal schism. Under pressure, and in the context of regional upheaval, a deal emerged, surprising many.

Clearly a marriage of convenience, the parties admit it is unlikely to reunite the two Palestinian entities. Each has its own leadership and security forces, not easily moulded into one. Their agreement calls for elections within a year, when they are supposed to compete. In the meantime the deal allows them to form a government of technocrats and appear united when they go to the UN in September to seek recognition of statehood. Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian president, has said he will not seek re-election and is focused on securing his legacy. Hamas is focused on legitimising itself in a bid to take over, once Mr Abbas steps down.

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