Advancing a Free Society

An Alternative Diplomatic Process: A Renewed Regional Framework for Cooperation in the Middle East

Tuesday, September 20, 2011
  • The peace process is not likely to move forward substantially in the near future.
    Although both sides ostensibly agree to a two-state solution, they are severely
    divided by the components of that solution, whether it is final borders, Israeli
    communities over the Green Line, security guarantees, or the fate of Palestinian
    refugees.
  • Yet pursuit of peace is a worthy goal, even when it seems far away. In the absence
    of progress on the core issues dividing the sides, progress might be made on
    common concerns unrelated to the core issues.
  • In 1991 the countries of the region embarked on multilateral talks based on
    the Madrid framework that eventually led to dozens of official and non-official
    meetings. Five multilateral working groups addressed key regional issues:
    environment, arms control and regional security, water, refugees, and economic
    development. The idea was to make progress on issues of mutual concern that
    might serve as confidence-building measures to move the bilateral tracks forward.
  • It was a time when Arabs and Israelis were talking about regional issues in a
    serious manner. Restarting the multilateral talks and adopting a “code of conduct”
    for the negotiating process would allow the West to influence political evolution in
    the Arab world in a democratic and positive way.
  • One advantage of a reconvening of the multilateral talks is that they would not
    really need any new concessions, as the framework has already been set up. If the
    multilaterals improve the atmosphere, they might facilitate the conclusion of a
    bilateral agreement.

Read the full report at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs…