If anyone can do it, the team that Gershon Baskin suggests (Dan Kurtzer and Rob Malley) could, but I think that Obama has so many domestic issues that his mind may not be on this. On the other hand, if his eye is now on history for his second term, Obama could still make history by “solving” this conflict.
Baskin is one of the many people who met with us during our recent Israel Symposium. This is the key passage in Baskin’s latest article at the Daily Beast:
…. Obama needs a new Middle East team in place immediately. …. The best man around for the job is Ambassador Dan Kurtzer, a former Ambassador to Israel and Egypt, on staff in the State Department from the Carter administration, engaged in every round of peace making efforts in the last twenty years and extremely active since leaving State in an enormous array of Track II efforts all around the region. Kurtzer could be assisted by Rob Malley, currently with the International Crisis Group, a former senior staff person in Clinton’s National Security Council. These two experienced diplomats and experts know all of the issues and the players inside-out. ….The key to their success would have to be quiet and decisive diplomacy. The immediate damage control and crisis management must be undertaken without the usual fanfare and bold statements. Now is not the time for speeches. The U.S. needs to reach an understanding with the Israeli government and the Palestinian leadership that the U.N. vote would be allowed to go through without U.S. and Israeli objection. The U.S. would play a significant role in drafting the resolution. In exchange the Palestinians would undertake an obligation that they will not submit legal action against Israel in any international body while the U.S. is undertaking its new diplomatic strategy. The Palestinians and Israel would agree to enter into direct and intensive negotiations on permanent status immediately after the new Israeli government is formed in 2013.The Kurtzer-Malley team would work with Obama and other key members of the administration to devise a plan and a strategy that will lead to facilitated negotiations between the parties. A continued U.S. commitment to Israel’s security must be constantly demonstrated by words and by actions, particularly when relating to the issue of delineating a border between the two states. Palestinians must receive the assurance from the Obama administration that the President is serious this time and that the outcome will be a viable, demilitarized Palestinian state next to Israel. The parties must know that the U.S. team will play an active role in putting bridging proposals on the table to close gaps between them—and also provide the guarantees necessary for monitoring the process of implementation.
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