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Concerning Annapolis, I Am Not Going to Hold My Breath

In theory the Annapolis summit between Israelis and Palestinians sounds like a good idea. It’s been a really long time since Israelis and Palestinians substantively talked about the possibility of peace. It’s been an even longer time since the Bush Administration actively involved itself in the dispute between the two parties and who even knows when was the last time an Israeli or Palestinian governmental official traveled to Annapolis? If you wonder why I mention this last issue it’s because that when looked at closely it’s the best, if not the only reason why anyone should be going to Annapolis.


Some such as Yossie Beilin have raised concerns that both sides are getting cold feet and side-stepping the major issues that need to be addressed at Annapolis. I hope Beilin is wrong. But if Sallie Meridor’s (Israeli Amb. to Washington) speech at a recent the Yad Vashem dinner in New York is any indicator, it seems Jerusalem is not even on the table. In a disturbingly political speech Meridor led the 700 plus person crowd in chanting never to forget Jerusalem. While normally such a message would be nothing more than the usual rhetoric of a respected and polished diplomat under such circumstances I found his words surprising, to say the least.
Likewise, in Israel the usual cast of characters are doing everything in their power to prevent the possibility of a viable peace agreement. As reported by Haaretz, Yisrael Beiteinu’s hardliner Avigdor Lieberman has put on the Cabinet’s calendar a motion that would make Palestinian recognition of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state a precondition for any negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.
However, my problem with Annapolis is not what issues will not be on the table. It’s that the critical parties will not be at the table and most importantly because the table itself might not be secure enough to put any issues on it in the first place. Best laid out by Israel’s leading policy think tank Reut, strategically there are serious concerns Israel should be taking into account. Reut offers a number of important ways Israel can avoid the roadblocks before them. But the concerns they raise are enough to worry even the most optimistic of observers. They are as follows:
*Although the Israeli and Palestinian negotiation teams are trying to formulate a joint statement that will be presented at the Annapolis Summit, both sides disagree on the type and scope of the issues to be included in the statement. Due to this disagreement, members of the Palestinian negotiation team are pessimistic regarding the Summit’s chances of success and fear that its failure will signal the end of Abu Mazen’s political career.
*Abu-Mazen has succeeded in maneuvering Israel (and the USA) back into an ‘all or nothing’ political process. The basis for Abu-Mazen’s strategy has been the ‘Package Approach’. This approach relates to reaching permanent status through one comprehensive agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, represented by the PLO, that resolves all historic issues emanating from the conflict as of 1948 (such as territory and borders, refugees and Jerusalem), as well as defines the principles of relations between Israel and a future Palestinian state…
The Package Approach assumes that the outstanding issues on the Israeli-Palestinian agenda are closely interlinked. …Hence, there is a need to deal with all the issues simultaneously in an all-inclusive, combined and comprehensive way….
The main structural weakness of the package approach is that it turns Israeli-Palestinian negotiations into an “all-or-nothing” exercise. Hence, for example, without an agreement on the holy places in Jerusalem, there will be no security or economic agreements.
*The issue of the Palestinian right for self-determination–would the establishment of a Palestinian state fulfill the right of self-determination of the Palestinian people in its entirety and take this issue off the agenda (See ‘Finality of Claims’)? Alternatively, even after the establishment of a Palestinian state, would a group of “Palestinians” continue to claim that their right to self-determination remains unfulfilled?
*The issue of Palestinian representation–who will the PLO and the Palestinian state represent after the establishment of a Palestinian state, whether it will be with provisional or permanent borders?
I would add one myself (but hardly my own): If Israelis and Palestinians manage to succeed in brokering a deal (whatever that deal might be) Hamas will probably not recognize its legitimacy and do everything in its power to undermine its chances for success. Conversely, if Israelis and Palestinians don’t come away with a substantive agreement on core issues Hamas will likewise claim victory and charge that only they truly represent the Palestinian people.
Look, I hope we see progress at Annapolis but I am not going to hold my breath.



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Judy

posted November 27, 2007 at 9:54 pm


All I have to say is that we need to learn from our children. My son is 15 years old and is the only Jew in his school, however he loves telling “Jew jokes”. I am still trying to convince him Jew jokes are to be told to Jews, like Catholic jokes are for Catholics, it’s like putting himself down…I don’t know if it has registered yet or not. We live in a college town and about 10% of the kids are from Iraq, Iran, Egypt or Palistine. His best friend for the last 4 years has been a Palistinian boy. This kid wears a hoodie to school a lot with a Palistian flag on it so my son wanted one with an Israeli flag. I bought it for him for Hannukah. Was this a smart thing to do? Hopefully these are were educated Americanized people who understand kids will be kids!



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robert

posted November 28, 2007 at 11:10 am


pray for the peace of Jerusalem



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Doug from PA

posted November 28, 2007 at 11:44 am


“Progress” in peace talks has always been bad for Israel since the Palestinians do not keep their agreements. I’d just as soon have Hamas take over the West Bank too so Israel and the US can stop pretending there’s any chance of reaching a peace agreement. If there is to be an agreement, then I go for the all or nothing approach. Unless everything gets resolved, then there is no benefit. Incrementalism has not worked.



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Helen

posted November 28, 2007 at 12:24 pm


The only reason to be even slightly optimistic this time is because of some of the heavy hitters from various Arab countries whom have never shown up before and who might put pressure on the Palestinians to compromise. But the Palestinians are known to “never miss the opportunity to miss an opportunity,” so hope remains slim. Still, if they dare to put renumeration on the table, they had better remember the millions of Jews who came to Israel from Arab countries such as Iraq and Morocco. They lost their homes just like millions of other people throughout history and should demand to be compensated as well.



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Will

posted November 28, 2007 at 12:33 pm


The Palestinians have never kept an agreement since the Oslo Accords, and they never will. The whole meeting in Annapolis is a farce at best. If Israel gives any part of Jerusalem away in a “Land for Peace” deal, they will suffer the wrath of God, and if the United States has any hand in it, they will bring that same wrath on their country. I pray every day for the peace of Jerusalem, but this is not the way to achieve it. What makes these leader think that this well choreograhed meeting with it’s eloquent but useless speaches will have any results? It is a waste of time and money, because it won’t have any real, lasting, beneficial effects, or make any true progress towards true peace. Arafat himself said he was just soothing Israel while he continued to build up troops, weapons and plans of attack. All this meeting is doing, as with most political farces, is drawing attention away from the real problem in the world, Iran.



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Will

posted November 28, 2007 at 12:56 pm


Ps. Palestine is not a recognized state and I don’t believe Israel needs their permission to be a state, or needs to be recognized by them. I also think that, as a US citizen, the United States should move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as a show of force and strength, to back up Israel and give them more confidence, and to show the world we will fight for them, to the death if necessary. The one true God, the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob will bless our country if we do that. I don’t know about the rest of the world, but I don’t want to see God’s wratch come on this country, on Israel, or our allies. God gave Israel the land they now occupy as He promised, and He will not look kindly on them giving it away, or us pushing them to.
I am a Christian that supports Israel 100%.



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shmuely

posted November 28, 2007 at 12:56 pm


I can no longer hold back my utter disgust and angst for the whole land for peace deal between the apostate Olmert and the ‘palestinians’. All that giving land and the creation of a ‘palestinian’ state will do is cause more blood shed for the entire region. Frankly there is no need for a ‘palestinian’ state because there is no such thing as ‘palestine’, there is no language of ‘palestinan’. In fact there isn’t even the letter ‘P’ in Arabic! But enough on that rant, here is a better idea that is backed by former and hopefully future Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu.
Formulated by Knesset Member Rabbi Benny Elon (National Religious Party), the “Israeli Initiative” calls for Israel to immediately annex all of Judea and Samaria, while working together with Jordan to grant Jordanian citizenship to all of the Arabs living there. Large Arab population centers would conduct civil affairs with a degree of autonomy, while exercising their national expression through Jordan, which is already a ‘palestinian’-majority country. For those who need a history lesson the PLO leader Yassir Arafat tried to make ‘palestine’ in Jordan until King Hussien called for his death and he escaped to Israel wearing a womans dress!
With the Israeli Initiative, the ‘palestinian’ Authority would be dismantled, as would the so-called ‘palestinian’ “refugee camps.”
Here are the details of the Initiative: http://www.israelinitiative.com/PersonalMessage.aspx
Unlike the U.S. Israel’s power is with-in the Knesset and any plan must be decided and voted on by them. The Israeli Initiative is gaining momentum in the Knesset and I pray it is sucessful



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ruvain

posted November 28, 2007 at 2:29 pm


If peace should come, we won’t stand in its way. I am pessimistic, however, about peace deriving fron Annapolis since the Palestinians have selected two governments which we might call “Dumb and Dumber” or “Terrorists and Extreme Terrorists.” As long as the consciousness of the Palestinians yield such governments, the prospects for peace are slim.
On the other hand, let’s also remember that when the Russian people had had enough of the Soviet Union, it did melt away. If the consciousness in Hebron, Jenin, Gaza, etc. shifts toward peace, then peace would be a fact. I fear, however, that if Abbas followed Yeltsin’s example and stood on the hood of a Hamas jeep, he would be dead within 2 seconds.



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Gary

posted November 28, 2007 at 2:31 pm


I am a Christian who love deeply the Jewish roots of my faith, the people and land of Israel. I strongly agree with Will. Jerusalem is the City of God and should never ever be traded for “peace and security”. To carve up Jerusalem will accomplish only a greater threat to Israel by her enemies. Her enemies do not want peace without the destruction of the state of Israel. By observing the behavior of her enemies despite the concessions already made by Israel will show what her enemies are really like. Such concessions of carving up land to appease a threat did not work in the 1930′s and will not work here. Chai l’Beit Israel!



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Bradley Kartel

posted November 28, 2007 at 7:15 pm


I am not supprised on this on going “non issue” IF Israel had done what she was asked to do in the first place these “peace talks” would not be taking place. The Issue of Peace according to the Word of GOD will be brought about only by the ONE WHO WILL IN THAT DAY UNITE THE WORLD AGANIST ISRAEL TO BRING ABOUT ISRAEL’S TOTAL DISTROUCTION WHICH WILL, BRING ABOUT THE RUIN OF ISRAEL’S ENEMIES.



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AlHaj

posted November 29, 2007 at 5:37 am


I have not read any comment so far that is not tainted with animosity. God is looking over Jerusalem. We planned God also planned. His plan will be realised while we are only puppet to His plan. Did not Judaism preaches peace, Christisanity preaches peace and did not Islam also preaches peace? Should we not all then go for peace?
Give Annapolis the hope.



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Jon

posted December 7, 2007 at 3:11 pm


“They preach ‘Peace, Peace’, but there is no peace.” In my opinion the logical extention of “Peace” is “Resting In Peace”, making “Pacifism” and “Peace through disarmament” just another thinly veiled Cult of Death. This is evident in almost every genocide within the past century, from Russia to Rawanda, being preceded only a few years – about 20 yrs in the extreme – by disarmament laws.
I prefer the “old school” approach to resolving this conflict, and I would have used the Gaza withdrawal as a tactical one and voiced this opinion at the time. Unfortunately the Knesset seems too impotent to adopt such a plan.
I may have already violated the “Rules of Conduct” so I’ll close by saying it’s a good thing I’m not Jewish, I might think I was the Messiah.
l’chaim



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