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Mideast Not Ripe for Obama Plan

Interviewee: Richard N. Haass, President, Council on Foreign Relations
Interviewer: Bernard Gwertzman, Consulting Editor, CFR.org
April 28, 2010

While U.S. President Barack Obama has argued that an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement is a vital national security issue, an agreement--while significant--would not "affect one iota" various critical foreign policy issues like Iraq or Afghanistan, says Council on Foreign Relations President Richard N. Haass. Moreover, he adds, the timing is wrong for an Obama administration peace plan.

"I'm worried about the interest in it now." he says. "My view is that to put out a plan in this context at this time, given the roughness of the U.S.-Israeli relationship, given the weakness of the Palestinian authority, would simply discredit the ideas and get the United States nothing."

Haass argues that it would be productive for the United States to focus on reigniting proximity talks and possibly work to develop terms of reference and a structure for future final status talks, along the lines of the Madrid Conference in 1991. "If and when you ever get final status talks going," he says, "it may or may not be tactically useful at some point to introduce American bridging proposals, American plans."

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