Martin Indyk

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The Dome of the Rock at the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City. Ahmad Gharabli/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

As President-elect Donald J. Trump prepares to assume office, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been forced onto his agenda by President Obama’s decision to have the United States abstain on United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which condemned Israeli settlements.

Mr. Trump has repeatedly declared his desire to make peace between Israelis and Palestinians, saying he viewed it as the “ultimate deal.” But he has also pledged to do something that will most likely impede brokering such a settlement: move the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Israel considers undivided Jerusalem its capital, but its eastern half is treated by most of the world, including the United States, as occupied territory.…  Seguir leyendo »

As President Barack Obama enters his second term, the state of the world is unsettled. The leading powers are beset with economic crises or are in various states of political transition or gridlock. The Middle East is undergoing political upheaval. Tensions are rising in Asia. The world’s institutions — whether the United Nations, the Group of 20 or the European Union — are weakened and dysfunctional. The liberal world order established after World War II is fraying at the edges.

This time of uncertainty and instability is a moment of opportunity for Obama. When the United States entered World War I, the philosopher John Dewey observed that the world was at a “plastic juncture.”…  Seguir leyendo »

As the Obama administration ramps up the sanctions pressure on Iran to accept meaningful curbs on its nuclear program, it is following a strategy of coercive diplomacy that has a fundamental design flaw. Consequently, President Obama is in danger of achieving the opposite of his intention: Iran may well decide that rather than negotiate a compromise, its best choice is actually to cross the nuclear weapons threshold, with fateful consequences for all.

Obama’s premise is that only by bringing the Iranian regime to its knees, through sanctions on its central bank and concerted efforts to reduce its oil exports, will it give up on its nuclear-weapons aspirations.…  Seguir leyendo »

In the past month, President Obama has pressed the autocratic president of our most important Arab ally to heed the demands of his people and step down, established a workman-like relationship with China's president, and delivered a State of the Union address that sought to "win the future." Taken together, these critical events highlight the complexity of America's global leadership dilemma: whether to cooperate or to compete; whether to partner with some autocrats while pressuring others. Over the past three decades, American presidents have found their ability to deal with these dilemmas affected by the shifting balances of relative power in the international system.…  Seguir leyendo »

Now that President Obama has finally succeeded in bringing the Israelis and the Palestinians back to the negotiating table, the commentariat is already dismissing his chances of reaching a peace agreement. But there are four factors that distinguish the direct talks that will get under way on Sept. 2 in Washington from previous attempts — factors that offer some reason for optimism.

First, violence is down considerably in the region. Throughout the 1990s, Israel was plagued by terrorist attacks, which undermined its leaders’ ability to justify tangible concessions. Israelis came to believe that the Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat was playing a double game, professing peace in the negotiations while allowing terrorists to operate in territory he was supposed to control.…  Seguir leyendo »

The current sturm und drang in U.S.-Israel relations cloaks a surprising development: President Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu are beginning to develop a constructive working relationship sensitive to the legitimate concerns of the other.

Israel's Bureau of Statistics reported in May, for example, that in the first quarter of 2010 there were zero building starts in the West Bank settlements -- a demand Obama had made at the outset of his administration. Since Vice President Biden's embarrassing visit to Jerusalem in March, Netanyahu has quietly blocked new building tenders in East Jerusalem, demolitions of Palestinian housing and evictions of Palestinian residents there.…  Seguir leyendo »

Does Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas know something that we don't? For five days his presidential security forces in Gaza came under organized attack by Hamas gunmen. His compound in Gaza City was under siege. But he responded to these clear challenges to his authority with observations about the madness that had infected Gaza and refused to assign blame.

One might expect that this democratically elected leader would denounce Hamas's coup and call for international intervention to restore his control. But there he sat in Ramallah, prevaricating as the only liberated part of his putative state fell into the hands of his Palestinian archenemies.…  Seguir leyendo »