US needs to play key role in re-engaging Israelis and Palestinians

David Ruth

Jeff Falk

Baker Institute report: US needs to play key role in re-engaging Israelis and Palestinians in peace negotiations
Report provides specific recommendations for reaching a two-state solution

HOUSTON — (March 14, 2013) — A new report from Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy lays out specific recommendations for the U.S. administration to advance prospects for a two-state solution. Titled “Re-engaging the Israelis and the Palestinians: Why an American Role in Initiating Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations is Necessary and How It Can Be Accomplished,” the report is the result of a year-long project involving Israeli and Palestinian working groups chaired by Edward Djerejian, the Baker Institute’s founding director and former U.S. ambassador to Syria and Israel. The report was issued a week before President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel, the West Bank and Jordan.

“This report is intended to demonstrate to policymakers, particularly in the United States, Israel and Palestine, that despite current adverse circumstances, viable and sustainable negotiations can be initiated and lead to a two-state solution,” Djerejian said. “A core concept for potential United States engagement in peacemaking is clearly defined. This study contends that proactive United States engagement is the only policy option that has the potential of creating a realistic policy trajectory of peace and stability building in the Middle East and re-establishing United States leadership in the region.”

The main components of the proposed strategy depend on the determination of the United States administration to announce general terms of reference for the negotiations to which the parties can aspire; negotiate and sign proposed memorandums of understanding with the government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority to address their respective considerations and concerns; and call upon the parties to start direct negotiations in fast and graduated tracks with the obligation to build on areas of agreement reached and continue until a final settlement is reached.

According to the report, U.S. engagement should aim to achieve a comprehensive Palestinian-Israeli peace agreement as a first step toward achieving a broader Arab-Israeli peace when regional circumstances allow. The parameters of the end state should be broad enough to allow buy-in from both Israelis, Palestinians and regional stakeholders, while at the same time be sufficiently defined to ensure breakthroughs and avoid a deadlock in negotiations. They should also be linked to the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002. The objective of the fast-track negotiations, in particular, is to create positive developments on the ground and to lead to a more sustainable path at the negotiating table to reach final status negotiations.

The report proposes an international supportive framework and backstopping initiatives. The report also proposes engaging regional and international support through a new international group expanded from the Quartet (the United Nations, United States, European Union and Russia) and facilitating a monitoring and oversight structure for negotiations.

This report builds on the Baker Institute’s 2010 report, “Getting to the Territorial Endgame of an Israeli-Palestinian Peace Settlement,” and addresses the prospects for negotiations under current political, economic and security considerations in the region. Special attention is paid to the environment for negotiations in Israel and Palestine, respectively.

The full report is available on the Baker Institute’s website at:


To schedule an interview with Djerejian, contact David Ruth, director of national media relations at Rice, at or 713-348-6327.

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Edward Djerejian

Edward Djerejian










Djerejian biography:

Founded in 1993, the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University in Houston ranks among the top 20 university-affiliated think tanks globally and top 30 think tanks in the United States. As a premier nonpartisan think tank, the institute conducts research on domestic and foreign policy issues with the goal of bridging the gap between the theory and practice of public policy. The institute’s strong track record of achievement reflects the work of its endowed fellows and Rice University scholars. Learn more about the institute at or on the institute’s blog,

About David Ruth

David Ruth is director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.