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Two special reports issued by the Baker Institute this month address, separately, the opportunities for U.S. engagement in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and the crisis in Syria.

"Re-engaging the Israelis and the Palestinians: Why an American Role in Initiating Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations is Necessary and How It Can Be Accomplished," lays out specific recommendations for the U.S. administration to advance prospects for a two-state solution. The report is the result of a year-long project involving Israeli and Palestinian working groups chaired by Edward P. Djerejian, the institute"s founding director and former U.S. ambassador to Syria and to Israel. "This study contends that proactive United States engagement is the only policy option that has the potential of creating a realistic policy trajectory of peace and stability building in the Middle East and re-establishing United States leadership in the region," Djerejian says.

As Syria"s brutal civil war approaches the two-year mark, the United States should prepare a more focused strategy that strengthens the moderate political forces in Syria and engages Syria"s regional and international stakeholders, according the second special report, "Syria at the Crossroads: U.S. Policy and Recommendations for the Way Forward." The report, co-authored by Djerejian and Andrew Bowen, Baker Institute Scholar for the Middle East, also recommends that U.S. strategy should buttress Syria"s neighbors and address the deepening humanitarian crisis as well as plans for a post-Assad Syria.

Both reports were published as the institute prepares to host a March 22 conference, with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, on these critical events in the Middle East. The conference, part of the institute"s 20th anniversary event series, will be held at the institute and features a keynote address by U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford.

The day"s agenda includes a panel discussion with Baker Institute fellows and scholars Yair Hirschfeld and Bowen as well as Woodrow Wilson Center Middle East Program experts Aaron David Miller and Robin Wright. Also joining the discussion will be Ambassador Fred Hof, U.S. special representative to Syria, and the editor-in-chief of Asharq Al Awsat, Adel al Toraifi. Ambassador Djerejian will speak on U.S. policy and the Arab Awakening, and will moderate a panel discussion on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.