Tag Archives: Palestinian Authority

Will Annapolis Be A Great Disappointment?

The Lebanon Daily Star raises the question as to why did President Bush at this point in time propose the Annapolis conference when to all intensive purposes it is doomed to failure? The editor points out, “all of the principal actors are political weaklings at home, and the very purposes of the gathering” are confusing. The threat of a US-Iranian conflict and continual problems in Gaza hovers over the gathering. “Under these and several other limiting circumstances,” the editor notes, “it is difficult (if not impossible) to see how this effort to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict can succeed where others– with better organization, stronger leadership, and more committed mediators– have failed.”

Part of the problem that is identified by the newspaper arises from Bush’s miserable standing in the Middle East arising from the Iraq War fiasco. The trust level he has is limited. The newspaper challenges the ability or desire of President Bush to place pressure on Israel to make necessary concessions that will move forward negotiations. The inability of Secretary of States Rice to even achieve a commitment from Israel to agree on an agenda, let alone a timetable, is an ominous sign. Likewise, the inability of the Palestinian Authority to compel groups like Hamas to adhere to any agreement does not bode well for this exercise in diplomacy. The invitation to Syria is an important step in involving all groups with concerns to participate, but why has no similar invitation been offered to Hamas?

Prime Minister Olmert Takes Steps For Peace– Or Does He?

The Israel Cabinet voted to allow release of 441 prisoners in order o fulfill Prime Ministerf Olmert’s pledge that he would release some of those in jail as a gesture of good will. He also made a strong statement regarding the building of West Bank settlements. “Let’s be straight, we committed ourselves in the road map not to build new settlements and we will not build any.” However, the Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, responded to the announcement by noting, “He omitted from the Israel obligation in the road map that the Israel government must freeze all settlements including natural growth.” There apparently is some confusion as to whether or not Olmert’s statement forbids natural growth of new building arising from the present number of people in settlements.

Prime Minister Olmert insists that Annapolis is “not a conference for negotiation” but a meeting to discuss future negotiation. This stance is bound to irritate other nations who are coming with expectations that something substantial will emerge from the time they are devoting to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. If the only outcome is an agreement to “talk” what exactly is new? Abbas and Olmert have been talking for months so why have a meeting to get them to talk. It would be helpful if Olmert came to Annapolis prepared to make some dramatic offer, but all signs indicate he simply wants more talk.