The International Crisis Group today launched a new global advocacy initiative designed to generate new political momentum for a comprehensive settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Major funding support for the initiative — to cost around $400,000 in its first year — was announced at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York.
“After the chaos of the last few months, there is a new sense of urgency about finding a comprehensive, just and sustainable peace”, said Crisis Group President Gareth Evans. “There is also broad international understanding of what is needed to ultimately resolve the conflict. But the spark has to be somehow lit, and a serious new process started”.
Crisis Group’s initiative will have five dimensions:
An international publicity campaign, in the first instance mobilising respected former presidents, prime ministers, foreign and defence ministers, congressional leaders and heads of international organisations around a statement of support for a comprehensive settlement, and a new process to achieve it — involving a possible international conference to kickstart negotiations, and the leadership role of the Quartet (U.S., EU, Russia, UN) being reinforced by greater participation from the Arab League and regional countries.
The statement now circulating, to be released in the first week of October, has already been signed by more than 80 such U.S. and global leaders, including Zbigniew Brzezinski, Frank Carlucci, Gro Harlem Brundtland, Joschka Fischer, Christopher Patten and Desmond Tutu.
A series of brainstorming sessions, bringing together officials and regional experts, to help inform the actions of the UN Secretary-General, his Middle East envoys, the other Quartet players and relevant regional countries. The first such meetings were held in New York on 1 and 13 September, and more will follow.
A high-level group of former U.S. Government officials will be convened to generate bipartisan support for the U.S. administration to engage fully in efforts to achieve a comprehensive resolution. The first round of consultations on this track took place in Washington DC on 18 September.
A Crisis Group task force of respected international figures will be established, after a detailed settlement strategy has emerged from these consultations, to visit key international capitals and build support.
Crisis Group will continue to produce a series of reports and briefings on the Arab-Israeli conflict, as well as the domestic situations in Palestine, Israel, Lebanon and Syria, and the closely related situations in Iran and Iraq, to provide information, analysis and guidance to policy-makers.
Crisis Group’s initiative is designed to help fill the present policy vacuum, stem the slide toward greater instability, and provide a viable alternative to moderates in the region on both the Israeli and Arab sides.
“With prevailing moods in the region, and among the key international players, any move toward compromise will be extremely difficult”, said Crisis Group’s Middle East Program Director Robert Malley. “But the extreme fragility of the situation, and the renewed willingness of leading Arab countries to find a path to peace, offer a significant opportunity for new ideas to emerge and to be pushed forward”.