November 21, 2008
By Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON (JTA) - Two former national security advisers close to Barack Obama advised the president-elect to outline the contours of a Palestinian-Israeli settlement as soon as possible.

"We believe that the Arab-Israeli peace process is one issue that requires priority attention," Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft wrote in the Washington Post opinion page on Friday. "The major elements of an agreement are well known. A key element in any new initiative would be for the U.S. president to declare publicly what, in the view of this country, the basic parameters of a fair and enduring peace ought to be. These should contain four principal elements: 1967 borders, with minor, reciprocal and agreed-upon modifications; compensation in lieu of the right of return for Palestinian refugees; Jerusalem as real home to two capitals; and a nonmilitarized Palestinian state."

Multiple reports in recent days have revealed that Scowcroft, the national security adviser to President Ford and the first President Bush, has advised Obama since before his run for the presidency.

Obama staffers have denied that Brzezinski, President Carter’s national security adviser, was a campaign adviser; however, they acknowledge that Obama solicited Brzezinski’s endorsement, and Brzezinski acted as a surrogate for Obama on a campaign call with Democrats Abroad.

The Washington Post piece, entitled "Middle East priorities for Jan. 21," says that "not everyone in the Middle East views the Palestinian issue as the greatest regional challenge, but the deep sense of injustice it stimulates is genuine and pervasive." Achieving a deal would "change the region’s psychological climate, putting Iran back on the defensive and putting a stop to its swagger."

It recommends the appointment of a Middle East peace envoy, cautioning however that such an appointment must follow, not precede, Obama’s outline for peace.

In order to assuage Israeli concerns about the Palestinian capability to contain terrorism, the writers counsel the creation of an international peacekeeping force which would also train Palestinian Authority police.

Both men are staunch "realists" who opposed the Iraq war, casting their beliefs against those of neoconservatives.

Brzezinski is perceived by some in the pro-Israel community as hostile to the close U.S.-Israel alliance, and he has joined others in decrying what he deems the excessive influence of the pro-Israel lobby.

During the campaign, staffers insisted that the candidate was closer to the views of his adviser Dennis Ross, the Clinton era negotiator who counseled dealing with Iran before getting deeply involved in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, which he suggested were premature.

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