The Urgency of the Abyss: Arab Reconciliation

Marc Lynch has a must read post on Arab efforts to forge some sort of common ground between “rejectionists” (Hamas, Qatar, Syria) and “moderates” (Saudis, Egypt), with a discussion of the implications in terms of Hamas-Fatah powersharing talks, Hamas-Israeli ceasefire negotiations, and subsequent Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. Syria, not surprisingly, plays a prominent role in the equation, as does Qatar.

For all the pessimism that followed the Gaza War and the subsequent Israeli elections, the urgency of the abyss seems to be playing a positive role, at least with regards to mending Arab/Palestinian internal rifts. It remains to be seen whether those rifts can be meaningfully mended, but a renewed Arab Initiative endorsed by Qatar and Syria, with a Palestinian unity government to negotiate it, would place enormous presure on Israel to demonstrate some willingness to advance the peace process.

As for Israel, it seems to be testing just how far into obstructionism it might go with the announcement that it was seizing Palestinian land in the West Bank, in all likelihood for settlement expansion. I haven’t seen any reaction from the Obama administration yet, but this will provide an early glimpse of how much pressure Obama is willing to put on Israel, and also some idea of any internal factions within the Obama “team of rivals.”