August 3, 2017, 12:00 pm - March 5, 2024, 9:58 am


The Middle East Institute
1319 18th Street NW
Washington, District of Columbia 20036 (Map)

Political and humanitarian conditions in Gaza are in a critical state. The Fatah-Hamas rivalry and the Gulf countries’ rift with Qatar have stymied funding to the territory and exacerbated an already desperate energy crisis. The issuance of exit permits to Palestinians in Gaza is at its lowest rate since 2014.

In the midst of pressing humanitarian concerns, what options do Palestinians and Israelis have to help prevent renewed violence? How can the United States and the international community bring the question of Gaza back into regional deliberations and the peace process?

The Middle East Institute (MEI) hosted a discussion with Tareq Baconi (al Shabaka), Lara Friedman (FMEP), Christopher McGrath (UNRWA), Natan Sachs (Brookings), and Paul Salem (MEI) on the ways in which to mitigate the political and humanitarian problems in Gaza.

An event in the George and Rhonda Salem Family Foundation Lecture Series.


Tareq Baconi
Policy Fellow, Al-Shabaka
Tareq G. Baconi is Al-Shabaka's U.S.-based policy fellow. His forthcoming book Hamas: The Politics of Resistance, Entrenchment in Gaza is being published by Stanford University Press. Baconi holds a Ph.D. in international relations from Kings College London, which he completed alongside a career as an energy consultant. He also holds degrees from the University of Cambridge (International Relations) and Imperial College London (Chemical Engineering). Baconi is an adjunct visiting fellow at the U.S./Middle East Project. His writings have appeared in Foreign Affairs, Sada: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, The Daily Star, Al Ghad and openDemocracy.

Lara Friedman

President, Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP)

Lara Friedman is the president of the FMEP. Prior to coming to FMEP early in 2017, Friedman was the director of policy and government relations at Americans for Peace Now. She was previouly a U.S. Foreign Service Officer, serving in Jerusalem, Washington, Tunis, and Beirut. Friedman is a leading authority on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, with particular focus on the Israeli-Arab conflict, settlements and Jerusalem, and the role of the U.S. Congress. She frequently briefs Members of Congress, administration officials, and others in the foreign policy/national security community, and is regularly published in the U.S. and Israeli press. Friedman works closely with Jerusalem expert Danny Seidemann and his NGO Terrestrial Jerusalem. She also participates in various Track II Israeli-Palestinian efforts and is a non-resident fellow at the U.S./Middle East Project.

Christopher McGrath

Acting Director, UNRWA Washington Office

Christopher McGrath is acting director of the Washington Representative Office for the UN Relief and Works Agency, where he represents the interests of the agency within the United States. Prior to joining UNRWA, McGrath was a communications strategist for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, responsible for providing messaging to and directing the media event function of the Senate Democratic Caucus. McGrath has worked on several political campaigns, including John Kerry for President, John Edwards for President, Jon Corzine for Governor, and Bob Menendez for Senate, and several Congressional campaigns. He has also worked as for USAID in the West Bank and Gaza and on the Iraqi parliamentary elections. McGrath holds an M.A. from GWU and a B.A. from Skidmore College.

Natan Sachs
Director and Fellow, The Brookings Institution Center for Middle East Policy
Natan Sachs is a fellow in and director of the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings. His work focuses on Israeli foreign policy, domestic politics, the Arab-Israeli conflict, and U.S.-Israeli relations. He is currently writing a book on Israeli grand strategy and its domestic origins. Sachs has taught on the Arab-Israeli conflict at Georgetown University's department of government and instructed on research design for the Security Studies Program at Georgetown. Previously, he was a Fulbright fellow in Indonesia, where his research included an empirical study of the behavioral effects of Islamic and national identities. He was subsequently a Hewlett fellow at Stanford’s Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law.

Paul Salem (Moderator)
Vice President for Policy and Research, MEI
Paul Salem is vice president for policy and research at MEI. He focuses on issues of political change, transition, and conflict as well as the regional and international relations of the Middle East.  He has a particular emphasis on the countries of the Levant and Egypt. Salem writes regularly in the Arab and Western press and has been published in numerous journals and newspapers. Salem is the author of a number of books and reports including Bitter Legacy: Ideology and Politics in the Arab World (1994), Conflict Resolution in the Arab World (ed., 1997), Broken Orders: The Causes and Consequences of the Arab Uprisings (In Arabic, 2013), “The Recurring Rise and Fall of Political Islam” (CSIS, 2015), “The Middle East in 2015 and Beyond: Trends and Drivers” (MEI 2014). Prior to joining MEI, Salem was the founding director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, Lebanon between 2006 and 2013.  From 1999 to 2006, he was director of the Fares Foundation and in 1989-1999 founded and directed the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies, Lebanon's leading public policy think tank.