Mideast Talks Yield Promises To Press On
Israelis, Palestinians Will Restart Peace Negotiations
By Glenn Kessler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 28, 2007; A01
Israeli and Palestinian leaders pledged yesterday in Annapolis to begin negotiations next month for a possible peace agreement, but their speeches before representatives of 40 countries — including Arab nations with no diplomatic ties with Israel — laid bare the deep grievances between them and the tough compromises that will be necessary to forge a lasting deal.
. . . “I believe now is precisely the right time to begin these negotiations,” he told the delegates, arrayed around a U-shaped table in a stately room honoring academy graduates killed in operations or in action. “America will do everything in our power to support their quest for peace, but we cannot achieve it for them.”
. . . Notably absent were representatives from Iran and Hamas, the militant group that won Palestinian legislative elections and now controls the Gaza Strip — effectively half the population of any future Palestinian state. Neither party was invited, and Hamas condemned the conference as a waste of time.
The president hasn’t much patience with those who cross him and obviously has no understanding of the process of negotiated peace. A necessary ingredient in the recipe is bringing together the parties at opposition. Leaving Iran and Hamas off the guest-list may serve his personal pique, but it does not a thing for progress.
There are many ways to interpret “I believe now is precisely the right time to begin these negotiations,” but the obvious choices are
- My other legacies are not working out, and/or
- I have so wrecked the Middle East that the participants are understandably desperate to put it back together again.
Bill Clinton worked directly with the parties in conflict and, even though he is a powerful enabler and skilled in the art of conflict-management, peace negotiations during his two terms came to naught. Bush has chosen to bring the entire Arab world (less Hamas and the non-Arab Iran) to Annapolis–and it’s a bold move.
Israel needs more than America at the table and so does Palestine. Unfortunately, Hamas and Iran should be there as well.