Palestinians are pleased at the uproar against Israel after its raid on a Turkish-led aid flotilla, but what they--and Israelis--want is more active U.S. engagement in the peace process and an agreement that looks like the one proposed in 2000-2001, says Palestinian pollster Khalil Shikaki.
Turkey's recent diplomatic strains with the United States and Israel reflect the "more assertive and self-confident" posture of a country looking to reestablish its role as a major influence in the Middle East and Central Asia, says expert F. Stephen Larrabee.
President Obama sees the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a national security issue. But badly strained U.S.-Israeli relations mean progress is unlikely unless Obama travels to Israel on a trust-building mission, says Middle East expert Daniel Brumberg.
President Obama's scheduled meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should stress that continued rejection of a peace settlement will erode the U.S.-Israel relationship, says Middle East diplomatic historian William B. Quandt.
An Israeli announcement of more housing construction in East Jerusalem became the focus of Vice President Biden's Middle East trip, but CFR's Jacob Walles thinks the "proximity talks" starting next week are a practical, low-risk way to restart negotiations.
As the United States plans to spur Mideast peace efforts, CFR expert Elliott Abrams says progress in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will come through development and building a legal system in the West Bank, not negotiations when the conditions aren't ripe.
At a time of renewed scrutiny of U.S. policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, veteran Middle East expert Robert Malley, who served as special assistant for Arab-Israeli affairs for President Bill Clinton, calls for rethinking Israeli-Palestinian talks to address concerns of Palestinian refugees and Israel's right wing.
CFR's Steven A. Cook says it was significant that President Barack Obama was pressing for "permanent status negotiations" between Israel and Palestine and not another interim accord, but adds that "the conditions on the ground don't lend themselves to progress."
Expert David Makovsky says there are unnecessary U.S.-Israel tensions over Israeli settlement policy in the West Bank. The dispute is impeding one of the few areas where progress can be made with Palestinians.
Aaron David Miller, a former senior U.S. negotiator in the Mideast, says Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's closely watched speech on June 14 "was less about pursuing Arab-Israeli peace and much more about pursuing the U.S.-Israeli relationship."
CFR Middle East expert Steven A. Cook says President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu wanted to project "a friendly partnership" in their White House meeting, but remain divided on a two-state solution and how to confront Iran.
Syria expert Joshua Landis says both the Syrian government and the Obama administration are looking to improve relations, but the renewal of sanctions by the United States, designating the country as a rogue state, may prove an obstacle.
Elliott Abrams, former chief Middle East adviser on the National Security Council, says the Obama administration's move to send diplomats to Damascus for talks marks "a real policy change" but he is doubtful it will amount to much.
Gerald Steinberg, an adviser to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, says many in Israel, himself included, would prefer that Benjamin Netanyahu, the head of the Likud Party, form a "a broad, centrist-based coalition" with Tzipi Livni of Kadima and Ehud Barak of Labor, but that a right-wing coalition may be easier to obtain.
Daniel C. Kurtzer, a former top U.S. diplomat in the Mideast and a recent adviser to Barack Obama, says divisions in the Israeli electorate will paralyze the political process and could lead to an extended "hiatus" in peace-making.
Aaron David Miller, a former top U.S. Mideast negotiator, says that naming George J. Mitchell as the new special envoy for Arab-Israeli issue shows the Obama administration is substituting "process for substance."
The Council on Foreign Relations' David Rockefeller Studies Program—CFR's "think tank"—is home to more than seventy full-time, adjunct, and visiting scholars and practitioners (called "fellows"). Their expertise covers the world's major regions as well as the critical issues shaping today's global agenda. Download the printable CFR Experts Guide.