The Middle East Channel

Kerry meets with Netanyahu to prod peace talks

Meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was "concerned" about negotiations with the Palestinians and hoped that Kerry could help get the peace process back on track. Netanyahu claimed, "I see the Palestinians continuing with incitement, continuing to create artificial crises, continuing to avoid, run away from the historic decisions that are needed to make a genuine peace." Palestinians have also suggested no progress had been made in negotiations and have raised concerns after Israel announced plans for the construction of thousands of additional settlement homes in the West Bank. Despite the divides, Kerry said he is confident that with "real compromise and hard decisions" the parties can reach a peace deal. Kerry is scheduled to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem and then again with Netanyahu.

Syria

U.N. and Arab League Envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi announced a further delay for a Geneva peace conference after U.S. and Russian officials failed to agree on a date. After meetings Tuesday, Brahimi said, "We were hoping we'd be in a position to announce a date today, unfortunately we're not." He continued that they hope to hold the conference by the end of the year. The parties remain split over Iranian participation in peace talks, the role of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and who would represent the opposition. Brahimi mentioned that the opposition is divided, saying, "They are facing all types of problems and they are not ready." Meanwhile, an explosion Wednesday in the center of the Syrian capital of Damascus killed up to eight people and injured 50 others. Reports are conflicting over whether the explosion was caused by a bomb -- an improvised explosive device planted at an office entrance -- or a mortar shell. On Tuesday, a mortar shell hit the Vatican Embassy in Damascus, however no casualties were reported.

Headlines

Arguments & Analysis

Modest Mission? The U.S. Plan to Build a Libyan Army' (Frederic Wehrey, Foreign Affairs)

"Both the Libyan government and outside supporters must recognize that Libya's security issues are fundamentally political problems. Better training and equipment will not automatically confer legitimacy on the new army, compel militias to surrender their arms, or entice Libyans to join up. That legitimacy will be obtained through a broad political reconciliation under the auspices of the recently announced National Dialogue, a functioning parliament, a constitution, and an equitable judicial system -- and by a government that is able to deliver services across the country

Given resource constraints and Washington's reasonable aversion to putting boots on the ground, the training of the general purpose force might seem like an appropriate level of U.S. engagement in Libya. Still, if the United States doesn't want to leave the country worse off, it should think very carefully about that force's composition, mission, and oversight before the program begins. It must also heed those who argue that the mission should be accompanied by broader assistance designed to help Libya work through the economic and political challenges that underlie its insecurity." 

Egypt's Others' (Jasmin Fritzsche, Sada)

"Egypt's armed forces appear to be leading a revival of Egyptian nationalism since the ousting of Mohamed Morsi. The civic state with equal rights for all citizens, the respect for Egypt's security institutions, and the prominence of national security are central themes for the interim government. As with every such sentiment, this re-emerging nationalism only functions in opposition to an ‘other.' Due to recent political developments, the Muslim Brotherhood takes on the role of this other in the eyes of the current government and other pro-military institutions. This perception is also based on the alleged links between Morsi and the Syrian opposition as well as the Palestinian organization Hamas. Amplifying those links -- and the alleged support of Syrian and Palestinian nationals for the Muslim Brotherhood -- not only led to the de-nationalization of the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters, but also created a strong anti-Syrian and anti-Palestinian sentiment in Egypt. This has resulted in a major change to the asylum policy regarding Syrian refugees, among other measures. Syrian and Palestinian refugees in Egypt have become a pawn in the government's fight against the Muslim Brotherhood.

While Syrians arriving in Egypt were not subject to visa restrictions and were allowed privileged rights, such as access to the public school and health system, they now need to apply for a visa prior to their arrival. Palestinians fleeing the Syrian conflict, however, never had the possibility of being registered as refugees; they face a protection gap in Egypt resulting from the exclusion from the 1951 Refugee Convention and the lack of a UNRWA mandate, and are therefore vulnerable to the arbitrariness of Egyptian state policies. Within the last four months, hundreds fleeing the conflict in Syria have been rejected at Cairo Airport, while others already residing in Egypt, face ongoing threat of deportation and detention in poor conditions."

--Mary Casey & Joshua Haber

JASON REED/AFP/Getty Images

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