If you’re looking for a place with some perspectives (generally more from the left side of the spectrum) on the Middle East and U.S. policy in the region, you should add the Israel Policy Forum’s new blog to your list of bookmarks. In its first two weeks, the Mideast Peace Pulse has offered thoughts from former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Edward Walkerand former Middle East peace negotiator Aaron David Miller, among others. In a piece entitled "Can We Work With Bibi?" Walker answers yes:
The Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu who I worked with while I was our Ambassador to Israel, was certainly conservative in his viewpoint, and he was tough when it came to military action. But, at the same time, he was pragmatic when it came to the interests of Israel and to his own political interests and that of his party. This is the Bibi who accepted the Hebron agreement and also signed off on the Wye agreement. He was the first member of Likud who ever agreed to turn over any portion of the West Bank to Palestinian authority, to the horror of many of his supporters. Despite the feelings of some in the US that Bibi reneged on his promises at Wye, the problem was not so much Bibi as it was Arik Sharon who was doing his best to undercut Wye and Bibi. And, of course, Arafat was hardly religious in carrying through with his promises at Wye. While Bibi allowed the thickening existing settlements, he did not open the floodgates for new settlements. …
The greatest mistake our Administration could make would be to pigeon-hole Bibi Netanyahu in a conservative settler straight-jacket and assume that we cannot work together. We worked with him before with some success and we can do so again if that is the direction that Israeli politics take.
Also on the blog, Emanuel College political science chair Lenore Martin proposes a "stimulus package" for reviving the Israeli-Palestinian peace process:
The stimulus package should consist of a multi-billion dollar international fund with a first priority of reversing the growth of Israeli settlements and financing the resettlement of Israelis from the West Bank essentially within the 1967 borders. The next application of the fund will be to house Palestinians in the vacant Israeli settlements. The ultimate goal of the stimulus package will be the creation of an economically viable Palestinian state. This proposal will go a long way to ending the occupation, changing the oppressive conditions the Palestinians are enduring and moving towards peace with an Israeli State and a Palestinian State.
And former AIPAC executive director Tom Dine, an IPF adviser, weighs in on how to get U.S.-Israel relations out of a "deep freeze":
To return to normal bilateral relations, early, mid-course, and long term steps need to be taken. I suggest three early and mid-term ones.
Reestablish trust. Positive moves are badly needed, including official contacts and exchanges, as well as continued gestures by top officials in both capitals. Syrian negativity should cease; the U.S. should make it very clear that it will not follow any of the previous Administration’s policies aimed at regime change. Both sides can join hands on the issue of 1.5 million Iraqi refugees now living in Syria, starting by acknowledging the hardships Syria is encountering and the fact that it is dealing with its new residents with compassion in the areas of housing, health care, and education.
Normalize the status of each nation’s embassies in each other’s capital city. A new American ambassador should be nominated, approved by the Senate, and sent to Damascus by June 30th.
Publicly support and join in mediating a conclusion, with guarantees of troops and early warning systems, to the long-delayed, long-awaited Syria-Israel treaty of peace. This international contract could dramatically change the dynamics of the region, recasting a new environment of peace and stability over the Levant, including with the Palestinians, if not further east. It would also alter the nature of Syria’s relationship with non-state actors such as Hamas, Hezbollah, and Islamic Jihad.