The latest report from the International Crisis Group, examines the Saudi-brokered Mecca Agreement between rival Palestinian organisations Hamas and Fatah. Providing a detailed examination of the agreement and an analysis of Hamas based on extensive discussions with the Palestinian Islamist movement and others, it concludes there are significant challenges but also the chance of a fresh start: for the Palestinians to restore law and order and negotiate genuine power-sharing arrangements; for Israelis and Palestinians to establish a comprehensive cessation of hostilities; and for the international community to focus on a credible peace process. Read more about After Mecca: Engaging Hamas
International Crisis Group
Lebanon has badly lost its balance and is at risk of new collapse, moving ever closer to explosive Sunni-Shiite polarisation with a divided, debilitated Christian community in between. The fragile political and sectarian equilibrium established since the end of its bloody civil war in 1990 was never a panacea and came at heavy cost. It depended on Western and Israeli acquiescence in Syria’s tutelage and a domestic system that hindered urgently needed internal reforms, and change was long overdue. But the upsetting of the old equilibrium, due in no small part to a tug-of-war by outsiders over its future, has been chaotic and deeply divisive, pitting one half of the country against the other. Read more about Lebanon at a tripwire
The latest report from the International Crisis Group examines the fragile stability, but not sustainable peace. Resolution 1701 has held but temptation to overreach could trigger new fighting or a domestic showdown in Lebanon. The greatest threats would be attempts by Israel or UN forces (UNIFIL) to use 1701 as a blunt means to disarm Hizbollah or by Hizbollah to test UNIFIL resolve. 1701 is a transitory tool to stabilise the border until bolder action is taken to reform Lebanon’s political system and build a strong state and to address regional issues like re-launching the Syrian track and engaging Iran. Read more about Israel/Hizbollah/Lebanon: Avoiding Renewed Conflict
Now is the time for a serious international push to launch an Arab-Israeli peace initiative. Catastrophic as the recent series of developments in the Middle East have been, they can give new impetus to the search for a comprehensive settlement. The Arab-Israeli Conflict: To Reach a Lasting Peace,* the latest report from the International Crisis Group, is a realistic analysis of all the obstacles to peace in the current climate. But it also charts a way forward that could succeed. “The Lebanon war must serve as a wake-up call”, says Robert Malley, Crisis Group’s Middle East Program Director. Read more about ICG: "Now is the time to launch an Arab-Israeli peace initiative"
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”. Read more about Global Advocacy Initiative Towards a Comprehensive Settlement
Horrific as it is, the current toll of death and destruction could reach entirely different proportions should a new threshold be crossed. A political solution to the twin crises of Lebanon and Palestine must be the international community’s urgent priority. Waiting and hoping for military action to achieve its purported goals will have not only devastating humanitarian consequences: it will make it much harder to pick up the political pieces when the guns fall silent. A new report launched by the International Crisis Group pieces together the strands of this multi-headed crisis in Israel, the occupied Palestinian territories, Lebanon and elsewhere, based on talks with officials and others, including Hamas and Hizbollah representatives. Read more about International Crisis Group: Only diplomacy can defuse the crisis in the Middle East
As their leader, Mahmoud Abbas, prepares to visit Washington on 26 May, Palestinians are watching for signals from the White House to help them decide whether he deserves their continued support. Mr Abbas Goes to Washington: Can He Still Succeed?, the latest briefing from the International Crisis Group, examines the Palestinian President’s predicament. Although Abbas enjoys institutional and popular legitimacy for his agenda, that support will fade if his international partners fail to deliver on their commitments. “Abbas has international support Yasir Arafat could only dream of”, says Crisis Group Senior Analyst Mouin Rabbani. “But he has until now been no more successful in changing Israeli policies or fundamentally altering the U.S. approach”. Read more about ICG report: Mr Abbas goes to Washington
The Palestinian political system is in disarray, and it will take sustained action by Palestinians, international assistance and — at a minimum — no obstruction by Israel to prevent its total collapse. “Who Governs the West Bank? Palestinian Administration under Israeli Occupation”, the latest report from the International Crisis Group, examines that system, which faces its most acute crisis since the Oslo process was launched in 1993. Although Israel’s occupation provides the context, the Palestinian Authority’s predicament is decidedly domestic. “The PA has been in virtually continuous crisis since the uprising began in September 2000, but it is now close to breaking point”, says Robert Malley, ICG’s Middle East Director. “It is paralysed and unable to make even basic decisions on Palestinian objectives”. Read more about Who Governs the West Bank?
Prospects for Israel’s long-term stability will remain uncertain unless the systemic inequities facing the country’s Arab citizens are addressed. “Identity Crisis: Israel and Its Arab Citizens,” the latest report from the International Crisis Group, analyses relations between Israel’s Jewish majority and its Palestinian minority, who make up roughly 20 per cent of the population. The report argues for immediate steps to redress discriminatory practices and lessen inter-communal tensions. Read more about Identity Crisis: Israel and Its Arab Citizens
ICG’s work in Israel, the occupied territories and Israel’s Arab neighbours is focused on new and more comprehensive political and diplomatic strategies to address the sources of conflict, and deal with the main factors within Israel and Arab societies hindering the achievement of sustainable peace. In its latest report, ICG addressed the question: “What a settlement freeze means and why it matters?” Read more about What a settlement freeze means and why it matters
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