Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
Henry J. Hyde, Chairman

CONTACT: Sam Stratman, (202) 226-7875, February 3, 2005

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The Future of the Middle East Peace Process
Hyde Schedules Thursday Hearing on Possible Steps To Further the Peace Process

BACKGROUND: During the course of the past four years and one-half years, political relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority broke down under the strain of the “Al Aqsa Intifiada.” The United States called upon the Palestinians to seek new leadership even as it offered the first-ever explicit American support for the creation of a Palestinian state. The Administration also sponsored a “Performance-Based Roadmap,” with the involvement of the European Union, the U.N. and Russia. Other important events were the Israeli construction of a security barrier between its territory and the Palestinians (which also encompassed parts of the occupied territories); Israel’s decision to propose a unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and part of the West Bank; and the death of Yasir Arafat followed by the Palestinian presidential election of January 9, 2005, which brought Mahmoud Abbas to power.

On her current trip, Secretary Rice told the Israelis and Palestinians that they must be prepared to make “hard choices” to take advantage of the current situation, addressing certain failures on one side or the other that seem to be blocking progress. In addition, the Administration said that it will invite the two sides to Washington this spring for separate meetings. On Thursday, February 3rd, the Administration notified the Congress that it was reprogramming $41 million appropriated in prior years for various forms of quick impact projects. President George W. Bush announced, during his most recent State of the Union message, his intention to propose $350 million in assistance to the Palestinians, with $150 million in the FY 06 budget and $200 million in an as yet forthcoming supplemental appropriations request. The Administration is promoting cooperation among American, Israeli, and Palestinian security services; a retired Army Lieutenant General, William Ward, was named to coordinate security cooperation.

WHAT: Full Committee Oversight Hearing: The Way Forward in the Middle East Peace Process

WHEN: 10:00 a.m., Thursday, February 10

WHERE: Room 2172 Rayburn House Office Building

WITNESSES: Henry A. Kissinger, former Secretary of State; Dennis B. Ross, former Ambassador, Counselor and Ziegler Distinguished Fellow, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy; Ziad Asali, M.D., President, American Task Force on Palestine; and Danielle Pletka, Vice President, Foreign and Defense Policy Studies, American Enterprise Institute.

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