Oriental Hall, Etc.

Happenings, speakers, and events at the American University in Cairo.

A two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict requires a strong external mediator, says former United States Ambassador to Egypt Daniel C. Kurtzer, now a professor of Middle Eastern Policy Studies at Princeton University. Speaking at an event hosted by AUC’s Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdul Aziz Alsaud Center for American Studies and Research, Kurtzer said that there is room in the peace process for other players, Arab and international, but if the United States intends to retain its dominant role in mediation, it has to hold both sides accountable for “bad behavior” and it should lay out terms of reference or parameters for the negotiations. He said another major shift also needs to take place: both Israelis and Palestinians must acknowledge the mutually destructive and ongoing nature of the conflict. So far, that hasn’t happened. Regional political complexity and instability has not provided an environment conducive to peace, Kurtzer argued. “The norm is not cooperation to resolve international conflict,” he said. “Rather, that is the exception.” The lack of progress has left optimism for a two-state solution waning in Washington. Kurtzer voiced concern that even trying to initiate negotiation is considered politically “dangerous” for American politicians. But Kurtzer still thinks Israelis and Palestinians can compromise on issues that are considered barriers to peace, such as Israel’s settlement policy. These roadblocks are surmountable, but require new parameters and stronger determination from the parties and the U.S. to guide any future negotiation.