Page 15 - FSJ_May12

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M A Y 2 0 1 2 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L
15
Palestinian accord, and they seem
unlikely to recover soon. The Is-
raelis are apprehensive that the rel-
atively stable region of the past
couple of decades has shifted against
them. They also find themselves
more isolated than ever, and less in-
clined to make the difficult choices
that peace negotiations entail.
For their part, the Palestinians
have drawn new energy from the
Arab Spring, but it is unclear how that can facilitate
progress toward a negotiated settlement with Israel. Pales-
tinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has played to
populist sentiment as a means of guarding against conta-
gion at home, but in the process he has alienated himself
from Israel and the United States through his drive at the
United Nations for Palestinian statehood.
Hamas has become bifurcated because the previously
Damascus-based element tied to Tehran seems to be mod-
erating andmoving away from Iran-
ian influence, while the Gazans are
playing a separate game with Iran.
The one bright spot is economic
growth in the West Bank.
For all these reasons, the Arab
Spring’s legacy intensifies doubts
about whether a two-state solution
is still even possible. A strong U.S.
role remains vital because no one
else can pick up the pieces.
Political Islam.
Before the Arab Spring, Washington
only had to convince these countries’ leaders to get what it
wanted. Now, the need for the new governments to con-
sider the popular will makes the diplomatic task of persua-
sion much more complicated.
Moreover, the democratic process is empowering Is-
lamists, as shown by election returns throughout the region.
As the new administration works to protect U.S. interests,
it must exercise strategic patience while political order in
F
OCUS
The movement is not
just a series of discrete
events over a few months,
but a long process likely
to span years or decades.