President-elect Donald Trump recently told the New York Times, “I would love to be able to be the one that made peace with Israel and the Palestinians,” and suggested he might appoint his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as a special envoy for the region. He and his advisors have expressed divergent views on the conflict at different times, however, leaving his ultimate approach murky. Meanwhile, President Obama is considering what legacy to leave for President-elect Trump towards a key U.S. ally, including whether to take any action on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict during his remaining weeks in office.
On December 2, the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings released the results of new public opinion polls by Nonresident Senior Fellow Shibley Telhami focusing on American attitudes toward Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Findings from two polls—one taken just before the election, and one just after—set the stage for both Obama and Trump in weighing their approach to the conflict.
Telhami revealed the poll results and discussed their implications with Martin Indyk, executive vice president of Brookings, and Sarah Yerkes, a visiting fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy. Tamara Cofman Wittes, senior fellow and director of the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings, moderated the panel. Following the discussion, the panelists took audience questions. This event launches the Center for Middle East Policy’s 13th annual Saban Forum, a U.S.-Israeli strategic dialogue, which runs from Friday, December 2 through Sunday December 4.
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[Regarding Imran Khan's plan to dissolve two provincial assemblies in a high-stakes attempt to force the federal government to hold early elections,] for all the intense politicking and instability in Pakistan's politics over the years, nothing like this has happened before in Pakistan. If Khan's move on Friday is successful, and that's a big if at this point, the PDM have indicated that they will hold provincial assembly elections and not general elections. Therefore Khan's move, even if successful, is not likely to force early general elections, his goal.
Many will find [military leaders' promises to adhere to a policy of non-interference] difficult to believe because ultimately, the reason that Khan lost power in April is that he had fallen out with the military. The outlook for Pakistan is political instability until the next election, whenever it is held.
[Pakistan has seen showdowns between civilian leaders and the military before, but nothing like this.] I think we're in an unprecedented moment in terms of the kind of confrontation, the kind of potential turmoil it could generate. That is what we're watching for in the next few weeks.