Annapolis – Why Bother?

Annapolis20djs "The Cabinet vote took place ahead of a meeting between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Abbas later in the day. The two men were trying to break a deadlock in preparations for the U.S.-hosted peace summit, which is expected to take place in Annapolis, Md., next week.

Israel sees the conference primarily as a ceremonial launching pad for new peace efforts, while the Palestinians want a more detailed plan for how post-conference talks will proceed.

Seeking to drum up support for the conference, Olmert is heading to Egypt on Tuesday for talks with President Hosni Mubarak, his office said. Arab League members are to decide on Friday whether they will join the gathering. High-level Arab attendance is seen as crucial to the success of nascent peace moves." Yahoo  News


Once again, we are presented with the inability of these parties to the Palestinian-Israeli struggle to accept or even comprehend the difference in approach of the other side.

The Israelis want to see the Annapolis meeting as an event in which the Americans make the Palestinians available for a free-flowing give and take that leads to an agreement that is some sort of compromise.

The Palestinians see the process as one in which the American super-power gives its blessing to the rough outline of what a final settlement will be.

In pursuit of that vision, the Palestinians want there to be a document agreed on between them and the Israelis which gives the shape of what the final settlement will be and they want it in advance.  Anything else they see as merely another trick.

As though to make any agreement even more difficult, Olmert’s government wants the Palestinians to make a public statement re-newing their previous de facto recognition of the existence of Israel.  In this new statement they want a specific acceptance of Israel’s nature as a Jewish state.  This is very difficult for the Paelstinians since their aspiration for their own state is for a government that is, at least in theory, religiously neutral.

Bottom Line:  Annapolis will amount to very little.

If the parties want to move forward towards a state of existence in which everyone can live reasonably, then they must give up their maximalist positions, accept the idea of a series of truces (hudna), and engage Egypt and other regional "players" in dealing with the extremists among the Palestinians. 

Even then, progress toward any kind of real Peace will be slow.  Struggle of this sort between two peoples for the possession of a single piece of land are not solved until the fires of competitive inter-communal feeling are burned out through struggle.  My sense of this is that the two peoples have not reached that level of emotional surfeit.  pl

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17 Responses to Annapolis – Why Bother?

  1. Nancy says:

    Sadly I agree with you, until the desire for peace becomes stronger than the desire to fight over the same piece of land, there will be no solution. Uri Avnery has an interesting acticle this week regarding Annapolis

  2. W. Patrick Lang says:

    You write:
    “.Israel’s nature as a Jewish state. This is very difficult for the Palestinians since their aspiration for their own state is for a government that is, at least in theory, religiously neutral”. I tend to agree, though an elegant solution could be that Israel will recognize the “Arab Palestinian State” and the Palestinians will recognize “The Israeli Jewish state”. The extra difficulties I see on the Palestinian side, though, are:
    1.. Recognizing Israel as a Jewish state will weaken the other side’s demand for the Right of Return for the Palestinian refugees into Israel proper. They may give up this demand as part of the final compromise, but not now.
    2.. Such recognition will draw a lot of flack from the Palestinians who are Israeli citizens. They are demanding that, after Arab Palestine is established and recognized, the Israel that will be left within the pre-1967 borders will become a bi-national state: Arab-Palestinian and Jewish-Israeli. Recognizing Israel as Jewish state, of course with full civil rights for minorities, is rendering this bi-national demand less likely to ever be fulfilled.
    You write:
    “.progress toward any kind of real Peace will be slow. Struggle of this sort between two peoples for the possession of a single piece of land are not solved until the fires of competitive inter-communal feeling are burned out through struggle. My sense of this is that the two peoples have not reached that level of emotional surfeit”.
    I have to admit that, tragically, you are right. But because I had a very happy childhood in a tiny kibbutz in the middle of nowhere with lots of doggies, lambs, calves, donkeys, horses, not to speak of jackals, rabbits, porcupines, gazelles, and a plethora of lovely birds, I am naturally inclined toward (guarded) optimism. You might say that I am an opsimist.
    Amatzia Baram”

  3. Jose says:

    Colonel, I agree with everything you wrote but would like to add something.
    Why hold a conference with no chance for success but so many chances to make things even worse?

  4. It seems to me that the issue of contention here — expressed as “Jewish” vs “Arabs” — involves racism more than religion. The particular semitic races involved agree on the abstract religious concept of one big invisible friend in the sky but disagree over which tribe gets to inhabit the land and exploit the water resources. As always, the failure to agree on the meaning of terminology in advance of the discussion dooms the parties to verbal dispute that precludes resolution.
    Again: “Judaism” vs “Islam” means one not very important thing. “Jews” vs “Arabs” means everything else that really matters.

  5. b says:

    What is a “Jewish State”?
    Reading Israeli papers and international Jewish publications Israelis and Jews themselves do not agree at all about what it means.
    Secularists in Tel Aviv and settlers in Hebron are very, very wide apart and will likely never agree on any definition.
    The same phenomenon is “Israel’s right to exits”.
    Ask: “In what borders” and you will get answers scaleing from 1 to 100,000,000 acers.
    How can anybody expect that Pals acknowledge such content-less statements as precondions to talks?
    Simply said: Israel has NO interest to negotiate at all as long as it has U.S. support for whatever it does or demands.
    Why should it? The stalling tactic wins all the time because the U.S. always supports the braindead arguments.

  6. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Why do the Palestinian need to recognize Israel as “Jewish State”? Have they become the Council of the Torah?
    This is silly.
    Anyway, the 2-state solution is a pipe-dream after 40 years of “facts on the ground.”
    And what about Jerusalem? It is not Palestinians’ to give ot take.

  7. Mad Dogs says:

    And our dear Condi thinks “diplomacy” is all about the “icing”. She has no real comprehension that one must first do the hard work of baking the cake.
    Yes, Annapolis, if it ever actually occurs, is destined to produce a stream of “feel-good” Op-Eds by the very same “Serious People” who gave us our “Victory” in Iraq.
    For the Palestinians and the Israelis, the holes they’re both digging keep getting deeper, and no one seems to question the “digging”.

  8. Mo says:

    Annapolis was supposed to be the culmination of the process that started with the boycott of Hamas and ended up giving power back to Abbas whereby he would give up what he was supposed to give up as part of the plan. Only as usual, and as happened with Arafat, once the dirty work is done for them, corrupt self-enriching politicians will turn on their agreements complaining that they could not possibly give up what they agreed to give up because they would lose control of the “street”.
    The other point of this conference is to bury the Saudi initiative as this way the Israelis are likely to get far more.
    The fact that Abbas is not insisting on the Saudi intiative shows what he is and what he cares for the Palestinian cause.
    Colonel, Im not entirely sure where you see willingness by the Israelis to compromise. What is their “give”? They will not cede settlements, they will not cede control of the water. They will, like Barak to Arafat, aim to swap land taken for desert land and split any future Palestinian state into cantons.
    And without Hamas at the table, not only will Annapolis amount to very little, it will be irrelevant. Whatever is agreed will either not be implemented or can be easily sabotaged. If they are going to agree hudnas, they may as well have invited Hamas as Hamas has already offered them one.

  9. Doran Williams says:

    I’ve not been comfortable with the conclusion I reached some years ago, that some sort of “peace,” the absence of warfare, between Palestine and Israel will come about only after the ability of each to inflict violence on the other is at some level of parity, and only after they have have learned that the hard way that violence is not the way.
    The situation is much more complex than that, of course. Palestine, for instance, has not yet the ability to form and keep in place a viable government. And Israel has yet to accept that Palestinians are not dirty nomads with no claim to property rights.
    But given the mind sets of both, they will have to endure years more of death, destruction, terror and fear before they will stop the fighting.

  10. Abu Sinan says:

    I agree. I also think that to call Israel a “Jewish State” is to deny it validity as a democratic state.
    A democratic state is whatever the voters/citizens of that nation make it. If there comes a day when the Palestinian community outnumbers the Israeli one, in way of citizen voters, then the state would no longer be “Jewish”.
    I am not in favour of a two state solution. “Facts on the ground” have made that impossible.
    The best thing the Palestinians could do is to stop all violent attacks, drop their weapons, and take on the South African aparthied mantra. “One Person, One Vote” in an united Israel.
    One person, one vote, democracy for all. Within the space of a year or two the entire international opinion would swing heavily to the Palestinians in a way even the US would be unable to resist for long.
    That is EXACTLY the worst Israeli nightmare, a completely non violent Palestinian movement demanding nothing more than an equal vote.

  11. mlaw230 says:

    Something may be different here. Skepticism is appropriate as this appears to be the legacy saving “hail Mary” attempt which is doomed to failure.
    On the other hand, multi party negotiations are peculiar, it may be that our administration needs a deal badly enough, in order to salvage Afghan., Iraq, Pakistan, that it will exert more leverage.
    The parties, and associated parties, seem strangely silent and without the usual position staking that normally preface these events. Perhaps they simply anticipate a disaster so they are staying away from it, but even Hamas seems quiet even though they have been cut out and Saudi has been undermined at least superficially.

  12. J. Rega says:

    Doran Williams wrote: “But given the mind sets of both, they will have to endure years more of death, destruction, terror and fear before they will stop the fighting.”
    The truth is that the Israelis endure very little of this, except fear, perhaps. This year alone the civilian death ratio is 25 Palestinians to 1 Israeli; does anyone care? What good does ‘peace’ bring Israel? What would motivate it to suddenly abandon all the settlements it has constructed on Palestinian land?
    This comedy will play out in time for Bush to look statesman-like and for Rice to fill in her posterity papers.
    The only guarantee is that at some point some pretentious fool will say: “The Palestinians never lose and opportunity…” and “The Palestinians will only have peace when they love their children…”.
    In the meantime, more illegal settlements, race-based roads and ‘administrative detention’ – all brought to you by the only democracy in the Middle East.

  13. David W says:

    Two short comments here: first (and again), American expediency is being played for a chump–by all sides; the Arabs and Israel have a long-term mentality, so Bushco’s attempt to somewhat burnish their legacy will receive all the due it deserves–lip service and waiting out the clock.
    Second: even if there was a chance for this to happen, the liklihood took a dive when Cheney told his Israeli counterparts not to listen to Condi.
    It’s a poker game, and everbody knows that Cheney/Bush have to go home early, but want to walk out the big winner. Seems like a mark to me.

  14. Cee says:

    The best thing the Palestinians could do is to stop all violent attacks, drop their weapons, and take on the South African aparthied mantra. “One Person, One Vote” in an united Israel.
    One person, one vote, democracy for all.
    I agree but from what I’ve seen, the constant IDF provocations make this impossible.

  15. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    Not to put a damper on things but legislators in the Knesset are already maneuvering to prevent any change in the status of East Jerusalem, which of course was annexed after the 67 war.
    To me, the critical question to ask at Annapolis is the following: What circumstances, if any, would the GOI guarantee Muslim sovereignty over the Dome of the Rock area?
    The answer, I believe, would reveal the intent and character of Israel and Zionism today. Not even the (Leo) Straussians could dodge this question.
    In my opinion, Buber and MartinVan Creveld made the most sense for a secure Israel. But both are gone with the (nuclear) dust in the wind, only to be replaced with the likes of Sharansky and Avigdor Lieberman. Perhaps the Israeli character shifted somewhat when immigration from Russia increased.
    But like several others, I too have visited the occupied territories and I see no way that Israel can return to the 67 borders without a civil war.
    Just my opinion, but I believe that if the IDF had followed the experience and tradition of the USM, then today if you were in Bethlehem and looked at the surrounding hilltops you would see hospitals and schools for the Palestinians instead of illegal settlements.

  16. jedermann says:

    I would guess that a more likely pre-condition for serious negotiation than emotional surfeit is the exhaustion, emotional and material, of all parties. Just the same, we needn’t look for that any time soon. These are two populations bred for tenacity and stubbornness by privation and persecution; the chronically dispossessed versus the recently dispossessed pitted against each other in what is perceived by both as a zero-sum game. The longer the Israelis stay in place the more likely a compromise of Palestinian repatriation and repossession. This is why it is the job of those on both sides who cannot accept any such compromise, cannot imagine living with the deep injustices they have suffered, to keep the anger fresh and to pass it undiminished to the next generation. That is relatively easy now, particularly with so many interested parties aiding and abetting their hatreds. Over the long haul, as the abettors become distracted or find other, more important interests developing elsewhere, there will be provocations to keep them engaged, but in the end the open sore that is Palestine will probably callous over in sullen acceptance of an arrangement that nobody likes. Then our descendants can look forward to periodic eruptions of violence there to punctuate whatever upheavals global climate change and the emergent aspirations of the Pacific Rim are causing.

  17. Laney says:

    This conference isn’t about peace. It’s about peace process. Israel wants another generation of peace process while they fill the West Bank with settlers. The American taxpayer will make this possible.

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