Former White House adviser and Middle East expert visits the U

The United States has interests in engaging in diplomacy to further the peace process between Israel and Palestine, but this will not likely occur until at least next year, according to William Quandt, a professor of Middle East studies and American foreign policy at the University of Virginia.

Quandt has a potent history in working with different administrations on similar policies.

He served in the White House under both Republican and a Democratic administrations.

Quandt was a National Security Council staff member for the Middle East from 1972 to 1974 and in the Nixon administration, and from 1977 to 1979 under President Carter.

During this time, he was involved in negotiations that led to the Camp David Accords and the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty.

Quandt was also president of the Middle East Studies Association, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and he worked for the Brookings Institution for 15 years.

Quandt came to the U campus yesterday to address an audience of students, faculty, staff and community regarding what actions the United States can take to further peace in the midst of Israeli-Palestinian turmoil.

Quandt said he intended to address a couple of subtopics in this lecture, including why the Bush administration has been standoffish toward the conflict, what could be done after the 2004 elections and why the issue matters to the United States.

He built a sense of understanding regarding the current status of diplomacy before addressing other issues regarding past failures and future potential.

“Right now, there is no ongoing serious diplomatic effort…It’s a very grim period,” Quandt said. He says the hands-off policy of the Bush administration may be influenced by the fact that this is an election year and that there is activity in Iraq that requires substantial attention, but the current policy is not solely due to these factors.

“Most administrations in the past have spent more time thinking about and worrying about the Arab-Israeli conflict than any other single issue in the Gulf Region,” Quandt said. “This administration is the exception in that regard. They consciously decided not to put this on the top of the agenda.”

It is important to the United States to give weight to the problem in the region because the policy of ignoring the Arab Israeli issue has produced even more hatred toward the United States than the Iraq invasion, according to Quandt.

He explained that he visited Egypt last week, expecting the majority of discomfort with U.S. policy to pertain to the invasion of Iraq. In fact, most of the passionate criticism in the region was directed toward the lack of U.S. involvement in the Arab Israeli conflict.

“In 1990-at the height of the Clinton diplomacy-polls showed about 40 to 50 percent of Arabs or Muslims were generally supportive of what the United States was doing. Today it’s about 3 percent,” Quandt said.

Aside from decreasing hatred toward the United States, Quandt said he believes a successful policy about the conflict will be crucial in stabilizing the Middle East and that costs of doing so will be modest in comparison to the war with Iraq.

“The potential gain will make it all worthwhile. The outline already exists…The alternative is to do nothing, leaving very grim prospects,” Quandt said.

Quandt was the fourth speaker in the nine-part Middle East Lecture Series.

The next speaker will be Shlomo Ben-Ami, former foreign minister of Israel and former minister of public security. He will address the Oslo Process at 3 p.m. in the Dumke Auditorium.

On Thursday, Feb. 26, Tom Farer, dean of the graduate school of international studies at the University of Denver, will address the status of International Law and Order after Iraq at 4:15 p.m. in the Hinckley Caucus Room, which is located in Orson Spencer Hall, Room 255.

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