A bipartisan group of U.S. foreign policy experts are concerned about the efficacy of next month’s peace talks.
They are calling on U.S. President George Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to push to make November’s U.S.-led peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians “substantive, inclusive and relevant,” cautioning that the success of the talks is critical and failure could be devastating.
Former President Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinsk, 9/11 Commission Chairman Lee Hamilton, and former Sen. Nancy Kassebaum Baker held a conference call Wednesday to outline how they would like to see the Bush administration pursue the talks.
The group called on the administration to impose several tough requirements, including asking Hamas to participate in the talks, ending Israeli settlement building and getting Palestinians to agree to forego their refugees’ right of return to Israel. They also called for the two groups to agree to work to share Jerusalem and provide access to holy sites. The group also encouraged the administration to continue to engage Syria in the peace process.
“No doubt this will take a very sustained effort,” said Hamilton, calling on the administration to hold an ongoing series of talks. “It’s of central importance to resolving many other problems in the region. “