U.S. Middle East Project  *  International Crisis Group  *  New America Foundation/American Strategy Program




The following letter on the Middle East peace conference scheduled for Annapolis, Maryland, in late November was sent by its eight original signers on October 10, 2007 to President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Since then, a number of leading former public officials and intellectuals have signed on to the letter in their individual rather than institutional capacities. The letter, a joint initiative by the New America Foundation/American Strategy Program, the International Crisis Group, and the US/Middle East Project, Inc., was printed in the November 8, 2007 issue of the New York Review of Books.


Dear President Bush and Secretary Rice:


The Israeli-Palestinian peace conference announced by President Bush and scheduled for November presents a genuine opportunity for progress toward a two-state solution. The Middle East remains mired in its worst crisis in years, and a positive outcome of the conference could play a critical role in stemming the rising tide of instability and violence. Because failure risks devastating consequences in the region and beyond, it is critically important that the conference succeed.

Bearing in mind the lessons of the last attempt at Camp David seven years ago at dealing with the fundamental political issues that divide the two sides, we believe that in order to be successful, the outcome of the conference must be substantive, inclusive, and relevant to the daily lives of Israelis and Palestinians.

The international conference should deal with the substance of a permanent peace: Because a comprehensive peace accord is unattainable by November, the conference should focus on the endgame and endorse the contours of a permanent peace, which in turn should be enshrined in a Security Council resolution. Israeli and Palestinian leaders should strive to reach such an agreement. If they cannot, the Quartet (US, EU, Russia, and UN Secretary General)—under whose aegis the conference ought to be held— should put forward its own outline, based on UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, the Clinton parameters of 2000, the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, and the 2003 Road Map. It should reflect the following:

The conference should not be a one-time affair. It should set in motion credible and sustained permanent status negotiations under international supervision and with a timetable for their completion, so that both a two-state solution and the Arab Peace Initiative's full potential (normal, peaceful relations between Israel and all Arab states) can be realized.

The international conference should be inclusive:

The international conference should produce results relevant to the daily lives of Israelis and Palestinians: Too often in the past, progress has been stymied by the gap between lofty political statements and dire realities on the ground. The conference therefore should also result in agreement on concrete steps to improve living conditions and security, including a mutual and comprehensive cease-fire in the West Bank and Gaza, an exchange of prisoners, prevention of weapons smuggling, cracking down on militias, greater Palestinian freedom of movement, the removal of unjustified checkpoints, dismantling of Israeli outposts, and other tangible measures to accelerate the process of ending the occupation.

It is of utmost importance, if the conference is to have any credibility, that it coincide with a freeze in Israeli settlement expansion. It is impossible to conduct a serious discussion on ending the occupation while settlement expansion proceeds apace. Efforts also should focus on alleviating the situation in Gaza and allowing the resumption of its economic life.

These three elements are closely interconnected; one cannot occur in the absence of the others. Unless the conference yields substantive results on permanent status, neither side will have the motivation or public support to take difficult steps on the ground. If Syria or Hamas is ostracized, prospects that they will play a spoiler role increase dramatically. This could take the shape of escalating violence from the West Bank or from Gaza, either of which would overwhelm any political achievement, increase the political cost of compromises for both sides, and negate Israel's willingness or capacity to relax security restrictions. By the same token, a comprehensive cease-fire or prisoner exchange is not possible without Hamas's cooperation. And unless both sides see concrete improvements in their lives, political agreements are likely to be dismissed as mere rhetoric, further undercutting support for a two-state solution.

The fact that the parties and the international community appear—after a long, costly seven-year hiatus—to be thinking of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is welcome news. Because the stakes are so important, it is crucial to get it right. That means having the ambition as well as the courage to chart new ground and take bold steps.



Zbigniew Brzezinski
Former National Security Adviser to President Jimmy Carter

Lee H. Hamilton
Former Congressman (D-IN) and Co-chair of the Iraq Study Group

Carla Hills
Former U.S. Trade Representative under President George H.W. Bush

Nancy Kassebaum-Baker
Former Senator (R-KS)

Thomas R. Pickering
Former Under Secretary of State under President Bill Clinton

Brent Scowcroft
Former National Security Adviser to President Gerald Ford and President George H.W. Bush

Theodore C. Sorensen
Former Special Counsel and Adviser to President John F. Kennedy

Paul Volcker
Former Chairman of the Board of Governors of the U.S. Federal Reserve System


New Signatories Since October 10, 2007

(Signatories are signing in their individual rather than institutional capacities)


Fouad Alghanim

Member of International Board, USMEP

Jodie Allen

Senior Editor, Pew Research Center; Former Editor of the Outlook Section, Washington Post

Harriet Babbitt

Former U.S. Ambassador to the Organization of American States; Former Director of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs

Birch Bayh

Former U.S. Senator (D-IN)

Shlomo Ben-Ami

Former Foreign Minister of Israel

Stephen Bosworth

Dean, The Fletcher School at Tufts University; Former Ambassador to Korea, Philippines and Tunisia

Lincoln Chafee

Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies; Former U.S. Senator (R-RI)

Steven Clemons

Senior Fellow & Director, New America Foundation/American Strategy Program

Harvey Cox

Hollis Professor of Divinity, Harvard Divinity School

Michael Cox

Professor, London School of Economics and Director of the Cold War Studies Centre

Edward Djerejian

Director, James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy, Rice University; Former Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs; Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel

James Dobbins

Former Assistant Secretary of State

Joseph Duffey

Director, U.S. Information Agency, 1993-1999; Assistant Secretary of State for Education and Culture, 1977

Peter Edelman

Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Joint Degree in Law and Public Policy; Former Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation

Gareth Evans

President & CEO of International Crisis Group; Former Foreign Minister of Australia

Leon Fuerth

Former National Security Advisor to Vice President Al Gore

Philip H. Gordon

Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy, Brookings Institution

Morton Halperin

Executive Director, Open Society Policy Center; Director of U.S. Advocacy, Open Society Institute; Former Director of the Policy Planning Staff, U.S. Department of State, 1998-2001

Gary Hart

Wirth Chair at the University of Colorado; Chair of the Council for a Livable World and the American Security Project; Former U.S. Senator (D-CO)

Rita E. Hauser

Former Member of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board

William J. vanden Heuvel

Chair, Emeritus of the Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt Institute; Former U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations

Samuel M. Hoskinson
Executive Vice President, Jefferson Waterman International; Former Vice Chairman, National Intelligence Council; National Intelligence Officer for the Middle East and Senior National Security Council Staff Officer under three National Security Advisors

Joseph Hotung

Chairman and Managing Director, Ho Hung Hing Estates Ltd., Hong Kong and United Kingdom; Member of International Board, USMEP

Amory Houghton, Jr.

Former U.S. Congressman (R-NY)

Robert E. Hunter

Senior Advisor, RAND Corporation; Former U.S. Ambassador to NATO

Robert Hutchings

Diplomat in Residence, Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University; Former Chairman of the National Intelligence Council

Anwar Ibrahim

Former Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister of Malaysia

Michael Intriligator 

Professor of Economics at UCLA; Former Director, UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations

Robert Jervis

Adlai E. Stevenson Professor of International Affairs at Columbia University; Former President, American Political Science Association

Herbert C. Kelman

Richard Clarke Cabot Professor of Social Ethics, Emeritus, Harvard University; Former Director, Program on International Conflict Analysis and Resolution, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs

Said Khoury

President, Consolidated Contractors International Company S.A.L., Greece; Member of International Board, USMEP

Lawrence Korb

Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress; Senior Advisor to the Center for Defense Information; Former Senior Fellow & Director of National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations; Former Assistant Secretary of Defense

Flynt Leverett

Director, Geopolitics of Energy Initiative and Senior Fellow, New America Foundation; Former Senior Director for Middle East Affairs, National Security Council; Former Middle East expert on the Secretary of State’s Policy Planning Staff; Former Senior Analyst, Central Intelligence Agency

Daniel Levy

Director, Middle East Policy Initiative, New America Foundation; Senior Fellow, Century Foundation; Lead Israeli Drafter, Geneva Initiative; Member of Israeli Delegation, Taba Negotiations

Anatol Lieven

Professor of War Studies, Kings College London; Senior Research Fellow, New America Foundation

Fouad Makhzoumi

Chairman, National Dialogue Party, Lebanon; Member of International Board, USMEP, Chairman, Future Pipe Group; Founder Makhzoumi Foundation

Robert Malley

Middle East and North Africa Program Director, International Crisis Group; Non-resident Senior Fellow at USMEP

John R. Malott

Former U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia; Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs

Lenore Martin

Professor of Political Science, Emmanuel College; Associate, Harvard University's Weatherhead Center for International Affairs

John McLaughlin

Former Deputy Director, Central Intelligence Agency

Everett Mendelsohn

Professor Emeritus of the History of Science, Harvard University

Diana Villiers Negroponte

Foreign Policy Studies, Brookings Institution

William Nitze

President, The Committee for the Republic

Augustus Richard Norton

Professor of International Relations and Anthropology, Boston University

Ayo Obe

Chair of the Steering Committee, World Movement for Democracy; Former Vice President, Civil Liberties Organisation, Nigeria

Adnan Abu Odeh

Former Political Adviser to King Abdullah II and to King Hussein of Jordan; Former Jordanian Permanent Representative to the United Nations

William E. Odom

Lieutenant General, U.S. Army (Ret.); Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute; Professor of Political Science, Yale University; Former Director of the National Security Agency, 1985-1988

Hutham Olayan

President & CEO, Olayan America Corporation; U.S.A. Member of International Board, USMEP

Christopher Patten

Co-Chair of International Crisis Group; Chancellor of the University of Oxford; Former EU Commissioner for Foreign Relations; Former Commander in Chief and British Governor of Hong Kong

Edward L. Peck

Former U.S. Chief of Mission to Iraq; Former Ambassador to Mauritania

Paul R. Pillar

Visiting Professor, Security Studies Program, Georgetown University; Former National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia, Central Intelligence Agency

Larry Pressler

Former U.S. Senator (R-SD) & Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Member, Council on Foreign Relations

William B. Quandt

Edward R. Stettinius Professor of Politics, University of Virginia

Felix Rohatyn

Former U.S. Ambassador to France

Theodore Roosevelt iv

Managing Director, Lehman Brothers

Richard J. Samuels

Ford International Professor of Political Science & Director, Center for International Studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Pierre Schori

Director General of FRIDE; Former Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary-General; Former Swedish Ambassador to the United Nations; Former Deputy Foreign Minister, Government of Sweden

J. J. Sheehan

General, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.)

Henry Siegman

President, US/Middle East Project, Inc.

Dimitri K. Simes

President, The Nixon Center; Publisher, The National Interest

Anne-Marie Slaughter

Dean, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University

Stephen J. Solarz

Former U.S. Congressman (D-NY)

Henry Steiner

Jeremiah Smith, Jr. Professor of Law, Emeritus, Harvard Law School

Richard Vague

Chairman and CEO of Adagio Partners

Phil Wilcox

President, Foundation for Middle East Peace; Former U.S. Ambassador at Large; Former Special Assistant to the Undersecretary for Management at the U.S. Department of State; Former Director for Regional Affairs, Bureau for Middle Eastern and South Asian Affairs, U.S. Department of State

Lawrence B. Wilkerson

Colonel, U.S. Army (Ret.); Pamela C. Harriman Visiting Professor of Government, College of William Mary; Professorial Lecturer, George Washington University; Former Chief of Staff, U.S. Department of State; Former Director, U.S. Marine Corps War College

Joseph Wilson

Ambassador in President George H. W. Bush’s Administration; Special Assistant to President Clinton; Senior Director for African Affairs, National Security Council

Timothy Wirth

President, U.N. Foundation; Former U.S. Senator (D-CO)

Frank Wisner

Former U.S. Ambassador to Zambia, Egypt, the Philippines and India; Former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy; Former Under Secretary of State for International Security Affairs; Vice Chairman of External Affairs at American International Group

John S. Wolf

Former Chief Monitor, the Middle East Roadmap, Department of State; Former U.S. Ambassador