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2009 March 18

Last month, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace published a paper by Muriel Asseburg, who argued that the EU must pursue greater political engagement on three tracks:  the Palestinian Territories, Syria and Lebanon, in order to be an effective player in the Middle East  peace process. 

Key conclusions:

1.  The Israeli-Palestinian negotiations must be in the EU’s main priority in the region. The EU should support Palestinian efforts to reach a new power-sharing agreement and send clear signals that it is ready to cooperate with a Palestinian consensus government backed by all factions, including Hamas.

2.  Efforts should concentrate on re-opening Gaza’s border crossings to allow for humanitarian aid, reconstruction, and a sustained economic upturn.

3.  The EU should move towards ratification of its Association Agreement with Syria and encourage Israeli–Syrian talks, but recognize that U.S. security guarantees are essential for moving the talks forward.

4.  The EU should not push for direct negotiations on the Israeli–Lebanon track. Rather, it should work on Syrian–Lebanese relations and push for an early exchange of ambassadors between Damascus and Beirut, for border demarcation, and cooperation on border control.

Question to the Blogosphere:  Do you think it is possible for Europeans and the Obama administration to work together to assume the roles of players in the Middle East again?  What do you think are the advantages to having the EU as a mediator over the United States?  Where do you see the situation progressing between the Israelis and Palestinians in the next 8 years?  Why does Asseburg argue that there should not be direct negotiations between Israel and Lebanon?  Do you think this is wise?

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