January 23rd, 2009
The Big Question is a feature where influential lawmakers, pundits and interest group leaders give their answers to a question thats driving discussion in news circles around the country.
Todays Big Question is:
What are the odds Obamas new envoys can make a difference in the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan?
See responses below from Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Morton Klein, Rep. Ed Royce, Michael Moran, Dr. Herbert London and Jeremy Ben-Ami.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) said:
While diplomacy is a useful tool in solving long-standing grievances, recent history shows that ongoing regional conflicts and challenges to U.S. interests in the Middle East, Afghanistan, and Pakistan cannot be solved by good intentions and friendly overtures alone. Read the full response
Morton Klein, president, Zionist Organization of America said:
We are concerned about the choice of George Mitchell as Mideast envoy. His record shows that he believes both sides are equally at fault for lack of progress. Mitchell ignores the fact that Israelis have made major concessions-giving up all of Gaza and one-half of the West Bank. Read the full response
We are concerned about the choice of George Mitchell as Mideast envoy. His record shows that he believes both sides are equally at fault for lack of progress. Mitchell ignores the fact that Israelis have made major concessions-giving up all of Gaza and one-half of the West Bank. Yet, the Palestinians have fulfilled none of their signed agreements to arrest terrorists, end incitement to hatred and violence against Israelis Jews in their schools, media, speeches and their refusal to accept Israels existence as a Jewish State (new Palestinian emblem shows all Israel covered with Arab headdress next to a rifle). He wrongly stated at a conference in December 2008 that the Palestinians overriding objective is an independent state. Palestinian polls show that 58% reject statehood alongside Israel (An-Najah University, May 2008), while 75% believe Israel has no right to exist (Near East Consulting, Feb.2007), 75% oppose continued negotiations (NY Times, March 19,2008). Mitchell doesnt seem to understand that the issue is not statehood, Jerusalem, or settlements, but the Palestinian refusal to accept Israel as a Jewish State and a refusal to transform their culture from promoting violence to promoting peace. As Jackson Diehl of the Washington Post said, The Mitchell Plan of 2001 was a flop. Why try the Mitchell approach again?
Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said:
Secretary Clinton has appointed two distinguished diplomats for these positions. Indeed, either could have been Secretary of State themselves. The State bureaucracy doesnt like the concept of special envoys, but she deserves credit for empowering such strong personalities. Read the full response
Michael Moran, executive editor, CFR.org (Council on Foreign Relations) said:
On the narrow question of odds, nobody familiar with the complexities, many of them overlapping and conflicting, inherent in those three problems can possibly answer the odds are good. They may, however, be better than they have been in years. Read the full response
Dr. Herbert London, president, Hudson Institute said:
Whatever diplomatic skill George Mitchell and Richard Holbrooke possess, it seems to me the issues in the Middle East are intractable. Read the full response
Jeremy Ben-Ami, executive director, J Street said:
The quest for resolution of the conflicts in the Middle East isnt a matter of oddsits a matter of urgent necessity for both the United States and Israel. President Obama and his team, including Secretary of State Clinton and George Mitchell can succeed if the United States is willing to play an active role in the diplomatic process. Read the full response
By The Hill