Conference Call Part 3: David Makovsky

17Jun09

Hadassah participated in three conference calls on Monday that discussed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Sunday evening speech.

Conference of Presidents conference call with David Makovsky (Senior Fellow and Director of the Project on the Middle East Peace Process, Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

Although Makovsky’s primary topic was the recent elections in Iran, he wanted to begin with comments about Israel and PM Netanyahu’s speech. According to Makovsky, it is important that the White House welcomed what Prime Minister Netanyahu had to say and hopefully, we’ll see less tension in the relationship between Israel and U.S. Further, since PM Netanyahu has previously opposed a Palestinian state, it is notable that he is now endorsing one. However, Makovsky said that the news coverage has been confusing. Specifically, he mentioned that PM Netanyahu is not setting preconditions, he’s putting issues on the table. Makovsky feels that the press has covered this unfairly.

Makovsky pointed out that there is a gap in the issue of settlements between President Obama and PM Netanyahu. He wrote a piece in the Wall Street Journal about taking the settlement issue off the table for the moment, especially since 75% of the settlers are living on less than 5% of the settled land. Further, Makovsky predicted that PM Netanyahu will have problems with other members of Likud on the settlement issue.

Makovsky continued with an update on the situation in Iran. Currently, it is very foggy and the dust has not yet settled. If Ahmadinejad comes out the winner, he will have a serious deficit in legitimacy. There is a group outside of Iran who would like to push for nullification of results, and some are asking whether the president of Iran really matters when there is a supreme leader. Meanwhile, the nuclear program is still in progress, so there is some time pressure to solve the problem quickly.

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