May 19, 2009

Panel offers Middle East solutions

Israeli government officials and academics discussed policies to end the Israeli-Palestine conflict and impediments to a political settlement of the conflict at a two-day panel Thursday and Friday in Rockefeller Chapel. The panel, which drew more than 30 attendees each day, was organized by the Chicago Society and Muslim Student Association.

The panels included 12 experts in total, from academia, media, and government leadership. Former government officials included Yossi Alpher, senior adviser at the Camp David Summit, and Baruch Spiegel, former adviser to the Israeli Ministry of Defense. Professors included the U of C's John Mearsheimer and Barnard's Bashir Abu-Manneh.

On Friday, panelists suggested various “Obama Doctrines,” policies President Obama could enact in leading negotiations between Israel and Palestine.

Proposed doctrines included back-to-back bilateral talks between the United States and the main actors, economic sanctions, and reduced political and military support from Washington.

Thursday featured the panel “State Solutions: Parameters and Paradigms,” with Alpher, Abu-Manneh, and U of C professor Bernard Wasserstein as panelists. The panel members presented possible resolutions to the conflict between Israel and Palestine, and shared whether or not they were optimistic about the current situation and future resolutions.

Despite the differences in opinions on how to go about achieving peace in the region, there was a general consensus on the two-state solution as the best option for both Palestinians and Israelis. Yet this solution brought up many contentions of its own, because of the differing opinions on what the two-state solution would look like, especially regarding the Palestinian right of return.