Annapolis has become a study of the incompetent leading the blind-leading the feeble. A good business manager would have abandoned this “peace conference” months ago. But this is not buisness its diplomacy. And as Bret Stephens points out in today’s WSJ .
Henry Kissinger once observed that “when enough prestige has been invested in a policy it is easier to see it fail than abandon it.” At the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., next week, the current secretary of state will illustrate her predecessor’s point….
The operative theory is that Israel’s neighbors, fearful of Iran’s growing regional clout, have a newfound interest in putting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to rest. ….if only the locals would get with the concept. The Egyptians are openly skeptical about the conference, which they say lacks “an endgame.” The Saudis, …… can hardly be bothered with Annapolis; even now it’s unclear whether their foreign minister will attend. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has told the Saudis he would rather resign than attend a conference that achieves nothing. He fears Palestinians would “turn to Hamas after they see that Annapolis did not give them anything,” according to an unnamed Palestinian official quoted in the Jerusalem Post…………..Yossi Beilin, architect of the 1993 Oslo Accords and a political dove, predicts not only that Annapolis will fail, but that its failure will “weaken the Palestinian camp, strengthen Hamas and cause violence.” His political opposite, Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu, calls Annapolis “dangerous” and warns that Israel risks giving away everything for nothing in return.
After months of negotiation…this three day “extravaganza of peace” lead by a wonderfully crafted joint declaration. Has become a one day “meeting” with no declaration and no agenda.
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Among the principles sharply in dispute is whether Israel is a Jewish state. “We will not agree to recognize Israel as a Jewish state,” says Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, adding that “there is no country in the world where religious and national identities are intertwined.” Counters Mr. Olmert: “We won’t have an argument with anyone in the world over the fact that Israel is a state of the Jewish people. Whoever does not accept this cannot hold any negotiations with me.” One would have thought the question of Israel’s Jewishness was settled 60 years ago by a U.N. partition plan that speaks of a “Jewish state” some 30 times……Despite nearly 20 years of trying, there is simply no finessing these differences. If Israel is not a Jewish state, it may as well be called Palestine. If the existential issues of 1948 cannot be resolved, there is little point in addressing the territorial issues of 1967, which are themselves almost impossible to address.Why, then, hold a conference at all? The short answer is that Condoleezza Rice demands one, and she has spent countless hours over eight mostly fruitless trips to the region this year trying to arrange it. But this hardly addresses the deeper mystery of why this administration has gotten itself caught in the Venus flytrap of the Arab-Israeli conflict, after vowing not to do so, and why it has done so with a degree of ineptitude that recalls the dimmer moments of the Carter administration. Maybe it’s a matter of bureaucratic inertia.[ or the Iran Study Group and Jim Baker].
You can read Mr. Stephens entire piece here The Annapolis Fiasco