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Jordanian King Abdullah II meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, August 7, 2017 (PPO via Getty Images)
PPO via Getty Images

Interview: Douglas Feith on The Middle East’s Leadership Crisis and Palestinian Statehood

Douglas J. Feith

“When Arab leaders in general and Palestinians in particular speak unceasingly about justice, in a manner which makes it clear that any compromise over what they think they deserve is injustice, harm to honor and an attack on their conscience, they lead their people to a disaster. And that’s what they’ve been doing for generations.” So said Douglas Feith, who served as undersecretary of defense during the presidency of George W. Bush. Feith was responsible for, among other things: the war on terror, blocking the nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea, the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and the expansion of NATO. Today he is a leading scholar in Middle Eastern affairs at the Washington-based Hudson Institute, a right-leaning think tank.

As opposed to many American and European experts on the Middle East, who refuse to adjust their beliefs to fit the realities of the region, or change their ideas in light of actual changes on the ground, Feith is unafraid to challenge the stagnation of thought surrounding many Middle Eastern issues, including approaches he himself promoted under Bush.

Feith does not believe that attempts to promote a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict from without have had a positive effect. “Jimmy Carter does not at all deserve credit for the Israel-Egypt peace treaty. The sides would have reached an agreement faster and maybe better without him” he says, convinced that the present Palestinian leadership cannot lead to the end of the conflict. “With the present Palestinian leadership, the two-state solution is not realistic. Many Israelis are interested in reaching an agreement with their neighbors, since they don’t want to control areas with a large Arab population in the West Bank. The road to an agreement is via arrangements with the neighboring states—Jordan and Egypt. Egypt has a great deal of interest in what goes on in the Gaza Strip. It may be that the Saudis, if they decide that they’re finished with the Palestinian Authority, will want to work with the Jordanians on a solution for the West Bank not based on the two-state solution.”

To read the full interview, click here.

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