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Ghaith al-Omari, Former Palestinian Negotiator, Joins Institute

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Highly respected policy expert to offer insight on Palestinian politics, Middle East diplomacy

Washington, D.C. – Ghaith al-Omari, a former Palestinian peace negotiator who served most recently as the executive director at the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP), will join The Washington Institute for Near East Policy in early January as a senior fellow, the research organization announced today.

“We are delighted that Ghaith will bring his lifetime of experience as a diplomat, leader, lawyer, and analyst to The Washington Institute,” said Institute executive director Dr. Robert Satloff, who is also the Howard P. Berkowitz Chair in U.S. Middle East Policy. “At a time when many despair of progress toward a resolution of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, we remain committed to providing ideas and recommendations that are practical, realistic, and creative.”

Al-Omari has been a frequent presenter at Institute events for 15 years. “I am extremely excited to be joining many longstanding friends and colleagues in this unique, dynamic intellectual community,” he said. “I cannot think of a better, more effective forum in which to examine issues of Palestinian governance and the peace process, particularly in light of the tectonic shifts that have occurred in Arab politics, the Middle East’s geostrategic map, and U.S. policy.”

The Institute’s Middle East peace program is led by Ziegler Distinguished Fellow David Makovsky, who recently rejoined the organization after serving as a senior policy advisor on Secretary of State John Kerry’s Israeli-Palestinian peace process team. According to Makovsky, “Ghaith is not just an expert on Palestinian politics -- which is particularly valuable at a time of regional and domestic ferment -- but as a negotiator and an analyst he has been a creative force for overcoming diplomatic impasses for many years. Ghaith genuinely believes that Israelis and the Palestinians are fated to live side by side and that non-violence is the path to dignity and peace for all.”

Before joining ATFP in 2008, al-Omari served in various positions within the Palestinian Authority, providing top leadership with advice on security, negotiations and foreign policy, especially vis-à-vis the United States and Israel.

Al-Omari has extensive experience in the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, having been an advisor to the Palestinian negotiating team throughout the permanent status negotiations from 1999–2001. In that capacity, he participated in various negotiating rounds, most notably the Camp David summit and the Taba talks. After the breakdown of the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, he was the lead Palestinian drafter of the Geneva Initiative, an unofficial model peace agreement negotiated between leading Palestinian and Israeli public figures.

Al-Omari is a lawyer by training with degrees from Mu'tah University in Jordan and Georgetown University Law School. He also studied migration issues at the graduate level at Oxford University. Prior to his involvement in the Middle East peace process, he taught international law in Jordan and was active in human rights advocacy.

About the Institute: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy is an independent, nonpartisan research institution that advances a balanced and realistic understanding of U.S. interests in the broader Middle East. Drawing on the expertise of its fellows, the Institute promotes informed debate and scholarly research on U.S. policy in the region.

Contact: Brittany Parker, media liaison, email, 202-452-0650