Will President Mahmud Abbas postpone the presidential election? Ghassan al-Khatib, a former minister and Vice President of Bir Zeit University, discusses the implications for Palestinian politics and Fatah-Hamas relations.
Who will come out on top of Israel’s current leadership crisis, and what are the implications for peace negotiations? Yossi Alpher, a former advisor to Prime Minister Ehud Barak and co-editor of the electronic newsletter Bitterlemons, elucidates the intricacies of Israeli politics.
The status of Golan Heights remains the last major disputed land issue between Israel and its neighbors, outside of its conflict with the Palestinians. Indirect talks between Syria and Israel have set the stage for starting meaningful negotiations, but their success depends heavily on U.S. direct involvement.
During the Arafat era, Israelis were ambivalent, even cynical, about the Palestinian reform process. The election of Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), who appears to be more genuinely committed to reform, will perhaps produce a more positive Israeli attitude. But for a host of reasons, in some circles the skepticism will persist.
By adopting free and democratic elections at the presidential, legislative, and local levels, Palestinians may be laying down the foundation of another working democracy in the Middle East. In the January 9 presidential election, none of the seven candidates, including Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), took victory for granted.
On March 1, the Quartet (the United States, United Nations, European Union, and Russia) and other donors will meet in London to discuss ways to support the new Palestinian leadership in carrying out political, economic, and security reform, as well as preparing for Israeli disengagement from Gaza.
Events since PLO Chairman Arafat’s demise—the unexpectedly smooth transfer of business to a pragmatic leader committed to negotiations and reform, Palestinian security forces’ efforts to stop militant attacks, and the Israeli-Palestinian truce announced at the February 8 Sharm Al Sheikh summit—have brought a wave of optimism to analyses of Palestinian affairs.
On July 17, 2005, Palestinians are scheduled to elect a new parliament. The stakes are enormously high, especially as groups that sat out the 1996 parliamentary election—notably Hamas but also smaller factions—will field candidates. Various parties have been squabbling over the electoral rules.
Tunisians took to the streets in February protesting Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's scheduled visit to their country in November 2005 to attend the World Information Summit. Inviting Sharon, seen as a war criminal by many Tunisians and other Arabs, was an undemocratic decision by the Tunisian regime exercised against the popular will of the Tunisian people.
As Israel contemplates military action to halt Iran's nuclear ambitions, it is essential to take a closer look at Iran's most powerful man - Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei - and his views toward the Jewish state. A clearer understanding of the precise challenge Iran poses should disabuse Israeli leaders of the idea that force is the best way to neutralize it.