The Middle East: Taking Sides

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Mahmoud Abbas today becomes the first Palestinian president to visit Washington in over five years ago. He is asking President Bush for financial assistance and political support to help shore up his authority at home.

Abbas has had a relatively successful four months in office. He is restructuring his security forces and denouncing violence, two moves that some say have helped lead to the current lull in fighting.

But he says this emerging democracy will quickly collapse unless Palestinians see Israel and the United States helping move toward a two-state solution. Critics of Abbas say that sounds like a threat, and that he needs to do more disarm and restrain militants.


Matthew Rees, Jerusalem bureau chief for TIME magazine and author of “Cain’s Field: Faith, Fratricide and Fear in the Middle East”

Ian Lustick, professor and Bess W. Hyman Chair in Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania and associate director of the Solomon Asch Center for the Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict

Richard Fairbanks, counselor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, ambassador-at-large and former chief U.S. negotiator for the Middle East peace process under President Reagan

Salameh Nematt, Washington Bureau Chief of Al-Hayat, a London-based international Arab daily newspaper.