Daniel Levy

Daniel Levy is the president of the U.S./Middle East Project, based in New York and London, and is a former Israeli negotiator.

Recent Articles

A Middle East Report Card

With the clock running out on the Bush administration, can late efforts amount to actual progress in the Middle East? Is the Annapolis process doomed, or can Sec. Rice finally make some progress?

Condoleezza Rice has just completed her 14th Middle East visit in 15 months and her third since the Annapolis Conference. The Annapolis effort is scheduled to last one year, wrapping up at the end of the Bush term, but with four months gone, the scorecard makes for predictably depressing reading. Economic conditions and freedom of movement in the West Bank have, if anything, deteriorated -- settlements are expanding, not a single outpost has been dismantled, and Israelis and Palestinians are less secure. Leaders on both sides -- Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas -- have been kept alive politically (and that admittedly was not a given), but they are still in a precariously fragile state. The Israeli or Palestinian public barely believe in the process, but still, the Bush administration continues to tout its goal of a breakthrough agreement by year-end. President Bush will visit the Middle East in May, and Rice even notched up some minor progress on this trip. So where do things stand, and...

The Next President and the Middle East

To keep the world's tinder box from exploding even more violently, George W. Bush's successor is going to have to pursue a radically different Middle Eastern policy. Some policy pointers: Get out of Iraq. Work with (some) Islamists. Create the Palestinian state. Thereby, undercut al-Qaeda.

Anti-American sentiments run high at a 2005 rally in Gaza City. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Listen carefully when a new president is inaugurated next January for the sigh of relief coming from most of those Middle Easterners whom President Bush embraced as allies. Conversely, Bush's rivals in the region are likely to tune in to the occasion in a disgruntled mood. For them the Bush years have been good for business. The menu of grievances on which they've fed has become a veritable feast. Opposition to American designs in the region -- deployed with different emphases and with different goals by al-Qaeda, Iran, Hamas, Syria, and Hezbollah, to name but a few -- has been an easy sell and has won countless new adherents. To be a friend of "Bush the Younger" in Arabia has not been such a comfortable disposition. Even the Israelis have begun to recognize the limited utility of a president, despite all his words of support, who is so vilified abroad and divisive at home that coalition-building and agenda-advancement are beyond him. A new president can expect to be greeted by an...

What Next for Gaza?

Last week's border destruction granted a period of grace for Gaza, but it has also shown the holes in Israeli, Egyptian, United States, and Palestinian Authority policies.

A Palestinian youth, backdropped by part of the destroyed metal border wall between Gaza and Egypt. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
The last week has been a period of grace, of partial freedom for the 1.4 million residents of the large open-air prison also known as Gaza. Last Wednesday, Hamas activists apparently blew up the border barriers between Gaza and Egypt, and by morning it was a free-for-all . Gazans, used to being blockaded into 360 square kilometers, turned the Egyptian border towns of Rafah and El Arish into an impromptu and unlikely shopping mall/holiday resort. Tens if not hundreds of thousands of Gazans streamed into the Egyptian Sinai to stock up on basic goods and supplies, to visit family, and to enjoy a respite from the claustrophobia of Gaza. More than just the border barrier has been blown apart, and even as it is now rebuilt, the Israeli, Egyptian, United States, and Palestinian Authority policies have a very visible hole in them. Events leading up to the Gazan furlough days have been infuriating, first and foremost from a humanitarian perspective, but beyond that in the short-sighted and...

Plan B on Israel-Palestine

Ignoring Hamas and Gaza isn't going to work. Herein, a three-part plan to address the current crisis and relaunch a viable peace process.

The dust is beginning to settle on a new Palestinian reality. Official statements from Washington, Israel, and the new Palestinian government in Ramallah suggest a policy consensus: betting everything on the Mahmoud Abbas/Fatah option against Hamas, with goodies for the West Bank, while Gaza is kept on a strict diet. This is the proposed shortcut to a two-state solution. It may sound new, but it's really the old Plan A on steroids -- non-engagement with Hamas combined with the expectation of Abbas and Fatah delivering everything under these circumstances. Martin Indyk came out with a much smarter and more nuanced approach to "West Bank first," but it is the blunt and bludgeoning version that is likely to be adopted by the respective leaderships. I doubt whether even the sophisticated version can work. I have presented a lengthy critique of this approach elsewhere, as have others, notably Rob Malley and Aaron Miller in The Washington Post , and Jonathan Freedland in the Gaurdian . But...

Betting It All on the Maliki Government

The fatal flaw in the "benchmarks" approach to Iraq, and what an effective alternative might look like.

The congressional leadership and the White House have just reached a deal over war spending that drops a timetable for withdrawal and focuses instead on benchmarks that the Iraqi government should meet. At the same time, the president has further rubbed the Democrats' collective noses in mud with a speech given at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, wherein he delivered a new version of the spurious accusation that opposition to the war in Iraq is tantamount to support for al-Qaeda. Ignore for a moment that Iraq-based al-Qaedists only exist and have become a threat because of this administration's misconceived and mismanaged war. Ignore, too, that the achievements the president hailed in confronting al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan are being rolled back, not least because attention and resources were diverted to Iraq. Ignore even the president's defense of Guantanamo (rising, as it did, nearly to the level of the last GOP presidential primary debate) or the fact that the detention...

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