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Wednesday
Sep292010

Living Principles hails the Arc as an idea that is “gaining traction”

The highly regarded online magazine Living Principles published an article this week commending the RAND Corporation and Suisman Urban Design for presenting a viable proposal to deal with one of the largest obstacles to Middle East peace – how to connect a potential state of Palestine that will be physically divided. The article concludes, “The path of the Arc is still very much strewn with ifs—if Israel permits it; if a Palestinian state emerges; if large international bodies come up with the money—but as a sane, sustainable, and elegant solution...it stands a chance.” We agree, and hope we can turn that chance into reality. Read the full article here.

Monday
Sep272010

Palestine Authority PM Fayyad discusses importance of infrastructure development; voices support for a physical link between Gaza and the West Bank

Speaking at the New America Foundation in Washington DC this Thursday, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad discussed his efforts to prepare Palestine for statehood within the next year. While recognizing that a political settlement achieved through diplomatic talks is the ultimate goal, Fayyad argued that working now for improvements in the provision of security, delivery of basic services, and development of infrastructure can help create a sense of possibility about statehood among the Palestinian people and within the international community. 

At the 47th minute of his talk, Fayyad made explicit mention of the need to put the issue of creating a link for safe passage between Gaza and the West Bank back on the negotiating table. Here’s the full excerpt:

I cannot think of anything that can be more important than putting the issue of safe passage between Gaza and the West Bank back on the table in a hurry. Safe passage was supposed to refer to a link between Gaza and the West Bank and is part of the interim agreement of Oslo…Now is the time to put that issue back on the table. It will take some time to agree on the concept of safe passage, although progress was made in 2005. But I think that this in itself would begin to lift the spirits of people and give them something to think about in a positive way...This is certainly part of the permanent status architecture of the state of Palestine. But putting on the table right now would be extremely helpful…The more we move in the direction of trying to address issues in a practical way, away from what ideology pushes us to, the better position we are in to get this issue resolved.

The Arc provides a practical vision for bringing a link between Gaza and the West Bank into reality while integrating it into a broader framework for sustainable development. Perhaps Prime Minister Fayyad should use the Arc video as an advertisement for his vision!

Tuesday
Sep212010

Friends of the Arc supports International Peace Day

The International Day of Peace, observed each year on 21 September, is a global call for ceasefire and non-violence. The theme for this year's Day is "Youth for Peace and Development". We support the International Day of Peace and see the Arc as a tangible example of the important link that exists between peace and development. What's more, the Essay Contest we are currently hosting for college students from around the world provides an opportunity for young people to participate meaningfully in the global debate about Middle East peace.

Support the International Day of Peace. Learn more about the Arc. Participate in our Essay Contest.

Monday
Sep132010

$1,000 prize available for the student who writes the strongest memo arguing for the inclusion of the Arc in Middle East Peace Talks

Friends of the Arc announces a $1,000 prize for the best essay by a college or graduate student, in the form of a policy brief to President Barack Obama, on the topic of the usefulness of RAND Corporation’s Arc concept for the current Middle East negotiations. Submissions should respond to the following prompt: 
 
With the resumption of direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, many observers doubt that more purely political discussions will finally produce a comprehensive peace settlement; they suggest that some paradigm-changing idea is needed to break the deadlock. You have been asked to brief President Obama about the Arc project. Prepare a policy brief making the case that the Arc plan is just such a compelling idea, and that with U.S. support, it could help negotiators achieve a breakthrough for peace. 

Submissions are due October 8, 2010, at 6 pm ET and should be no more than 1,000 words in length. Before crafting their submissions, participants should view the 30-minute Arc video and other resources at www.friendsofthearc.org. College and graduate students from any country are eligible to apply. 

The winner will receive a $1,000 cash prize and will be featured on our website. FOTA reserves the right to post all essays on its website and to send one or more to President Obama. For all competition details, please visit www.friendsofthearc.org/essaycontest 

Thursday
Aug262010

U.S. support of the Arc could be a game-changer for Middle East peace talks

Last week’s announcement that the U.S. will host a new round of Middle East peace talks raises hopes that a negotiated settlement between Israelis and Palestinians will be reached in the next twelve months. However, as Stephen Walt and others argue, any new hope should be tempered with caution and skepticism. Many of the same issues that hampered talks in the past – settlements, the right of return for refugees, borders, East Jerusalem – are more difficult and complex than ever.
Albert Einstein famously defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” For this round of talks to actually deliver, some paradigm-changing creativity will be needed. A joint commitment by the Middle East Quartet members – U.S., EU, Russia, and the UN – to fund the Arc and work with Palestinian partners on its implementation, could play the role of game-changer. By giving early support to President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad’s efforts at building the foundations of a viable Palestinian state, political space could be created for compromise on other difficult issues.
Christopher Tucker recently reminded us in the Huffington Post that President Obama has called, in his Cairo speech and elsewhere, for out-of-the-box thinking on the question of Middle East peace. While his decision to take a risk and host talks is commendable, its now time for the President to think outside-of-the-box and take action that makes achieving a different result possible.
Learn more about the Arc at www.friendsofthearc.org