< Distinguished speaker series

James Jeffrey

Former United States Special Representative for Syria Engagement & the Special Envoy to the International military intervention against ISIL

Former Ambassador to Iraq, Turkey, and Albania

Is There a Two-state Solution in the Arab-Israeli Conflict? Who Can Make It Happen?

DATE: February 7, 2024 6:00 pm

LOCATION: World Trade Center Baltimore

Event information

What will happen in Gaza “The Day After” the fighting ends?  Here’s how President Biden laid out his policy goal.

“We have to end this cycle of violence in the Middle East. We need to renew our resolve to pursue this two-state solution where Israelis and Palestinians can one day live side by side in a two-state solution with equal measure of freedom and dignity.  Two states for two peoples,” he said in November.

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said it again on his recent swing through the region.  A Palestinian state must stand alongside Israel, “with both living in peace and security,” he told Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority.

A two-state solution has been an explicit U.S. policy since 2000.

But Israel leaders aren’t buying it, and some far-right members of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s cabinet call for expelling Palestinians from Gaza.

Many experts think it’s beyond reach. “It is…exceedingly hard to see why the two-state solution should not be considered dead in the water. …Israel’s settlement policies under the right-wing governments in recent decades were intentionally designed to make the two-state solution practically unachievable,” Chuck Freilich, a former deputy National Security Advisor in Israel, wrote recently.

So, is a two-state possible? If yes, how does the United States help make it happen? Especially in an election year?

To discuss this challenge, James Jeffrey, the former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Turkey and Albania, will speak to the Council on February 7.  Ambassador Jeffrey is currently chairman of the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars. He is one of the most thoughtful diplomats in the Foreign Service, with practical, hands-on experience in some very tough spots.  His last post, from 2018 to 2020, was as the Secretary of State’s Special Representative for Syria Engagement and Special Envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. He was White House Deputy National Security Advisor from 2007-2008.

He has experience dealing with political, security and energy issues in the Middle East, Turkey, Germany, and the Balkans. In 2010 he was named Career Ambassador, the highest rank in the U.S. Foreign Service.

A graduate of Northeastern University and the Boston University Graduate School of Management, he was a U.S. Army Infantry officer, serving in Vietnam and Germany.

Please join us for what is sure to be an informative and timely discussion.



Chair of the Middle East Program, Slater Family Distinguished Fellow – Wilson Center, 2021-present

Philip Solondz Distinguished Fellow – The Washington Institute, 2013-2018

Special Representative for Syria Engagement and Special Envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS – 2018-2020

Former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, 2010-2012

Former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, 2008-2010

Former U.S. Ambassador to Albania, 2002-2004

Deputy National Security Advisor to George W. Bush

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs – Department of State

Senior Advisory on Iraq to the Secretary of State

Deputy Chief of Mission in Baghdad

Deputy Chief of Mission in Ankara

M.A. – Boston University

B.A. – Northeastern University

Publications and Interviews

U.S. and Israel Seek A Coordinated Gaza Strategy – December 2023

Gaza the day after: Strategies for long-term stability – November 2023

Invading Gaza is the Least Bad Option for Israel – October 2023

How will Regional Players Respond to a Ground Invasion of Gaza? – October 2023

James Jeffrey on the Israel-Hamas Conflict – October 2023

The Abraham Accords: A Three-Year Success Now at a Crossroads – September 2023

On the Horizon 2023 | Middle East – January 2023

Awards and Service

U.S. Career Ambassador, appointed in 2010

U.S. Army Infantry Officer – Germany and Vietnam, 1969-1976

Additional reading related to the topic

Iran is strategic threat to region – January 2024

Israel’s Muddled Strategy in Gaza – December 2023