Reagan's Mideast Peace Initiative

November 12, 1982

Report Outline
Lebanese Reconstruction
Palestinian Problem
Situation in Israel
Special Focus

Lebanese Reconstruction

Uncertain Prospects for U.S. Peace Plan

The Israeli invasion of Lebanon last summer and the expulsion of Palestinian military forces from West Beirut significantly altered prospects for a Middle East peace settlement, creating new opportunities and pitfalls for U.S. diplomacy. In contrast to the 1973 Middle East war, which brought the superpowers to the brink of confrontation, the Soviet Union remained on the sidelines this year and the U.S. government emerged as the generally recognized arbiter of Middle East affairs. Now that the U.S. election is over and the Reagan administration is free of campaign pressures, the president is expected to renew his push for a comprehensive peace settlement when Prime Minister Menachem Begin calls on him Nov. 19 during a private visit to the United States.

In a nationally televised speech Sept. 1, just after the evacuation of Palestinian commandos from Beirut had been completed, President Reagan announced a new U.S. peace plan. He proposed that the Palestinian inhabitants of the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip be granted self-rule in association with Jordan. The president also called for negotiations to decide the status of Jerusalem, although he expressed the conviction that the city, which is sacred to Moslems, Christians and Jews, “must remain undivided.” Finally, the president asked for a freeze on new Israeli settlements in the occupied territories. While the basic elements of Reagan's plan had been stated U.S. objectives for many years, it was considered significant that Reagan drew them together in a comprehensive proposal and put the full weight of his authority behind them.

The Israeli government headed by Menachem Begin immediately rejected Reagan's proposals and has since voted to establish new Jewish settlements on the West Bank. But Israel's Arab neighbors and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) have reacted to the plan with cautious interest, and some believe that with a concerted effort from the U.S. government something may come of it. While the PLO could eventually return to the terrorist tactics of the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Palestinians are thought to be in a poor position to block negotiations, having lost their Lebanese base. In Israel, support for Begin's policies remains high, but the Lebanese operation has provoked an unprecedented amount of controversy, and the position of the more inflexible parties could erode.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Israel, Palestine, and Middle East Peace
Jun. 21, 2013  Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
May 2009  Middle East Peace Prospects
Oct. 27, 2006  Middle East Tensions Updated
Jan. 21, 2005  Middle East Peace
Aug. 30, 2002  Prospects for Mideast Peace
Apr. 06, 2001  Middle East Conflict
Mar. 06, 1998  Israel At 50
Aug. 30, 1991  The Palestinians
Oct. 19, 1990  The Elusive Search for Arab Unity
Feb. 24, 1989  Egypt's Strategic Mideast Role
Apr. 15, 1988  Israel's 40-Year Quandary
Mar. 02, 1984  American Involvement in Lebanon
Nov. 12, 1982  Reagan's Mideast Peace Initiative
Apr. 23, 1982  Egypt After Sadat
Jan. 04, 1980  Divided Lebanon
Jul. 20, 1979  West Bank Negotiations
Dec. 01, 1978  Middle East Transition
Jan. 13, 1978  Saudi Arabia's Backstage Diplomacy
Oct. 29, 1976  Arab Disunity
May 16, 1975  Middle East Diplomacy
Sep. 13, 1974  Palestinian Question
Dec. 12, 1973  Middle East Reappraisal
Apr. 25, 1973  Israeli Society After 25 Years
Aug. 19, 1970  American Policy in the Middle East
Apr. 25, 1969  Arab Guerrillas
Aug. 02, 1967  Israeli Prospects
Jul. 06, 1966  Middle East Enmities
Apr. 14, 1965  Relations with Nasser
Aug. 17, 1960  Arab-Israeli Deadlock
May 27, 1959  Middle East Instability
Jun. 04, 1958  Nasser and Arab Unity
Oct. 02, 1957  Soviet Threat in Middle East
Sep. 18, 1956  Suez Dispute and Strategic Waterways
May 09, 1956  Middle East Commitments
Apr. 13, 1955  Middle East Conflicts
Mar. 31, 1954  Security in the Mideast
Oct. 23, 1952  Israel and the Arab States
Jan. 30, 1952  Egyptian Crisis and Middle East Defense
Mar. 17, 1948  Palestine Crisis
Feb. 18, 1946  Soviet Russia and the Middle East
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Regional Political Affairs: Middle East and South Asia