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Is America helping or hindering peace in the Middle East?

March 29th, 2013
12:40 PM ET

By Samuel Burke, CNN

Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians are completely stalled.

Parties from both sides have called for America to renew its efforts, but one person is not.

Columbia University professor Rashid Khalidi argues that America's role in that peace process is actually hindering the situation, not helping it, in his new book called "Brokers of Deceit: How the U.S. Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East.

Khalidi believes that a trip like the one President Barack Obama just made to the region has more do with the U.S. relationship with Israel than it does with the Palestinians.

In his book, Khalidi goes as far to argue that the U.S. is largely complicit, whether deliberately or not, in the reality that there's been no peace between these two places.  

"It has made the situation measurably worse." Khalidi told CNN's Ali Velshi on Thursday. "We've exacerbated the problem. As far as the Palestinians are concerned, as far as the conditions under which they live. So they can call it what they want. But it's scandalous for them to call it a peace process."

Bret Stephens, foreign affairs columnist for The Wall Street Journal, says that the peace process was misnamed from the very beginning.

"In part because the maximum Israel could give was less than the minimum Palestinians were willing to accept," Stephens said in a conversation with Velshi and Khalidi. He added that this is mainly because Palestinians insist on the dismantling of the settlements, but Israelis are unlikely to push for that because in the past Israel has dismantled settlements and garnered little results in favor of peace.

In spite of that, a recent poll that was published in the Jerusalem Post showed that a majority of both peoples support a two-state solution: 59% of Palestinians and 62% of Israelis.

"It's largely insoluble because for the past 20 years, we've gone in the wrong direction," Khalidi said. "The things that could and should have been done, when you had this welcoming attitude toward peace."

But Stephens sees Palestinian militarism as the number one obstacle to a Palestinian state.

"I think that the best policy that could be pursued on all three sides - American, Israeli and Palestinian - are small confidence-building measures, not big steps, not huge grand bargains, small things that every side can do to reduce the number of checkpoints, to provide security assistance to Palestinian security personnel."

"I think that's pumping formaldehyde into a corpse," Kalidi said in response to Stephens. "This entire structure is dead. It will not produce a resolution."

Khalidi suggests going to an international body instead of the United States.

For the time being, the United States' influence is undeniable; how President Obama chooses to exercise it in his second term remains to be seen.

Filed under:  Israel • Latest Episode • Palestinian territories
soundoff (40 Responses)
  1. starofdavidscotland

    I caught the interview on CNN- Kalidi would LOVE for Israel to lose America as a friend. In fact he stated as such when he suggested ANY OTHER COUNTRY would be better. Of really? What about Britain whose FO has sided with the Arabs going back decades and armed Arabs against Jews fleeing the Holocaust.. What about the Scandinavians who pump gazillions into paying terrorists who blow up women and children in pizza parlours shopping malls and , poignant right now, families sitting down for the Passover

    Or perhaps the Russians or the Iranians or the Belorussians or Lebanese who arm Assad to slaughter nearly 100000 Muslims and not a peep or boycott from any the lonny left

    Kalidii of course conveniently forgets that these Arabs have their state. IT'S CALLED JORDAN. But they want ANOTHER Muslim state that'll be the 23rd! TOGETHER WITH ALL OF ISRAEL- and want to call it " Palestine". Of course he also forgets that's the same state they've been REJECTING since 1937. Why? Because it requires then to accept the ONE Jewish state on the planet and that is anathema to Arabs

    Here's the problem Kalidi -and no propaganda from the likes of you gonna change it- Arabs/ Muslims in the ME hate Jews. FACT! Check their press their tv their school books . check the Palestinians MAP of " Palestine" for goodness sake.

    Jews were dhimma in most Arab Muslim countries for centuries – these apartheid states treated Jews like dirt. Now the Jews have their own state the Arabs can't bear it so for 64 yrs they've been trying to destroy Israel.

    These imperialist Arabs colonised. all of the Middle East post 7th century The Jews are the only ones who have won every war that the Arabs start. These Arab wars in 1947, 1948, 1956. 1967 and 1973. ALL started by multiple Arab armies. All won by Jews

    Every offer of peace by Jews to Arabs of the Palestinians persuasion. REJECTED. Ever offer of a state for the Palestinians rejected BY THE PALESTINIANS. Going way back to 1937 and thoughout WW2 when these Arabs fought alongside the NAZIS while the Jews fought with America and Britain.

    Why? It's their dirty little secret. They can't , don't want a state whilst the Jewish state of Israel exists as their neighbour

    This has NOTHING to do with America and EVERYTHING to do with Arab colonialism and racism

    The first Palestinian leader who accepts Israel and attempts to make a lasting peace will gets a bullet in the head faster than you can say intifada. That's why there's no Palestinian state and why Jews keep dying at the hands of Palestinian terrorists

    Oh yes Kalidi hates that America sides with democracy free speech freedom of religion freedom of assembly and press and equality for women and gays. Ie THE SAME AS IN ISRAEL. Or maybe it SHOULD side with the Palestinian who OPPOSE all the above eh?

    March 29, 2013 at 1:13 pm | Reply
    • Paul II


      March 29, 2013 at 6:41 pm | Reply
  2. oreste

    Nor the one nor the other. Just the contrary. There is no way to make heads and tails in this dispute. There are too many interested parties in the continuation of this dispute. It is an industry which support a lot of jobs.

    March 30, 2013 at 3:36 pm | Reply
  3. Thinker23

    As long as the Palestinians do not have a leadership ABLE AND WILLING to stop violence, recognize Israel and NEGOTIATE A PEACE AGREEMENT there will be no negotiations, no agreement and no peace regardless of the efforts of Obama and other "peace makers" as well as regardless of the amount of Palestinian complaints about settlements, occupation, closures, fences and everything else they lovce to complain about.

    As long as the Palestinians are willing the war to continue it will continue. More settlements will be built and more Palestinians will be killed. When the number of dead Palestinians will satisfy those still alive they will stop violence, recognize Israel and ask for peace negotiations. When it happens peace wil become possible. Not sooner.

    March 31, 2013 at 1:58 pm | Reply
    • The real Thinker

      Are you high on something? Last time i checked it was the zionist state which is occupying and terrorising the Palestinians,

      March 31, 2013 at 6:07 pm | Reply
      • Thinker23

        I'm not sure what you've checked but the simple fact is that Palestinians are PEOPLE. It is not possible to "occupy" PEOPLE, it is possible to occupy LAND. Further, it is PERFECTLY LEGAL to occupy enemy's land DURING A WAR. Still further, the land Israel occupies either belongs to Israel or it does not belong to ANY state.

        This means that is someone is "high on something" here it's definitely not yours truly.

        April 1, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
  4. TruthSeeker

    I recommend these resources to learn more about the Israeli occupation.


    Mondoweiss is a news website devoted to covering American foreign policy in the Middle East, chiefly from a progressive Jewish perspective. "

    Jewish Voices for Peace

    "Jewish Voice for Peace members are inspired by Jewish tradition to work together for peace, social justice, equality, human rights, respect for international law, and a U.S. foreign policy based on these ideals.

    JVP opposes anti-Jewish, anti-Muslim, and anti-Arab bigotry and oppression. JVP seeks an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem; security and self-determination for Israelis and Palestinians; a just solution for Palestinian refugees based on principles established in international law; an end to violence against civilians; and peace and justice for all peoples of the Middle East.

    Our Political Platform
    Jewish Voice for Peace is a diverse and democratic community of activists inspired by Jewish tradition to work together for peace, social justice, and human rights. We support the aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians for security and self-determination."

    April 13, 2013 at 2:13 am | Reply
  5. TruthSeeker

    "Watch this short, historically accurate animated introduction to Israel-Palestine 101:"

    April 13, 2013 at 2:35 am | Reply
  6. paul martin foreign correspondent

    The US and everyone should stick their noses out of the affairs of foreign countries and let them sort their own problems out ! America wouldn't appreciate foreign governments interfering in their internal affairs.

    July 18, 2013 at 6:47 pm | Reply
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