New optimism for Mideast peace?

    Delaware Senator Ted Kaufman says the fear of a nuclear Iran is forcing other Arab nations to support the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.

    Following a three day peace forum in Jerusalem, Delaware Senator Ted Kaufman (D) says he’s optimistic about the prospects for peace.  That optimism can be attributed in part to Iran.   Not that Iran is trying to help, but Kaufman says the threat posed by Iran is having a unifying affect among other Arab nations.  “They are all deathly afraid of Iran, that Iran will get nuclear weapons, and they don’t want that to happen.”  He says the Arab nations are unifying behind the peace process because, “they know that this whole Israeli-Palestinian issue has got to be solved before the whole region will turn around and take a hard look at Iran.”

    Senator Ted Kaufman meets with Isreali Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a peace forum in Israel.
    Senator Ted Kaufman meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a peace forum in Israel. Photo courtesy of Senator Kaufman's office.

    During the trip, Kaufman met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  He says Netanyahu is ready to start negotiations with the Palestinians.  One of the sticking points in the negotiation effort is the uncertain future of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.  He recently announced that he would not run for re-election.  Kaufman says both sides know what has to be done to reach a deal.  “It isn’t like they have to do extensive negotiations, so I feel things are good.”  He says the Palestinians are making preparations for statehood.  “You get the feeling like people now are really taking this seriously.”

    Kaufman says there’s no guarantee that a peace deal will be reached, “but I think the pieces are in place to make it happen.”

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    Kaufman joined fellow Senators Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham as well as California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and former President Bill Clinton at the sixth annual Saban Forum.

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