Jmes Zogby, writing in the Egypt Daily News, analyzes what has been successful and what has not worked in attempts to bridge Israel-Arab differences. He cites a new report released by the US Institute for Peace entitled: “Negotiating Arab-Israel Peace: American Leadership in the Middle East,” which argues “Bush 41″ tried to dopt a balanced view in moving ahead on this topic. His major failure was not being able to build a viable coalition in America for peace and then being distracted by his re-election attempt. The report says Bill Clinton was more effective in creating a domestic support base but was “less disciplined and less strategic than his predecessor.” The report blames Clinton for not focusing sufficiently on Palestinian politiclal needs and leaning too far toward being concerned about Israel security needs. Unfortunately, Clinton did not become personally involved in the peace process until the last few months of his administration which was too late to have lasting impact.
The administration of the current George Bush is subject to the most criticism saying there is a lack of strategic clarity purpose and initially he was more concerned with “regime change” than with creating conditions for peace between Israel and Palestinians. When Bush got involved it was more at the rhetorical level with little or no follow through. His mismanagement and blunders in Iraq have made America disliked in the Middle East which hampers assuming leadership in peace efforts.
Autors of the report emphasize the importance of creating a peace process which is viewed in the Arab world as balanced and American leaders should be working to further compromise on the part of all parties. Zogby believes a new president must be “willing to use pressure and politics not only to bring Israelis and Palestinians together, but also to transform US, Israel, and Palestinian atittudes-building a new consensus that recognizes the necessity and benefits of Middle Eastern peace.”
Hopefully, a new US president will move beyond words towards action and use the office of the presidency as a force for compromise on the part of all parties.