How to best describe the Annapolis conference

Choose one of the following:

  1. The Annapolis conference is likely to make it possible for Israelis and Palestinians to start a process of overcoming differences, which will ultimately lead to a two-state solution. Both sides actually want this; they only need to be prepared to make compromises and find creative solutions.
  2. The Annapolis conference will be just another exercise in futility, with lots of photo-ops and posturing, but no change in the situation, because the sides are too far apart.
  3. The Annapolis conference will be a venue at which the US, influenced by Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations by means of threats and promises about Iraq and oil, will force Israel to concede control of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and possibly even accept some form of responsibility for the Arab refugees. The Palestinians and their backers have no interest in a two-state solution other than as a step on the path to replacing the Jewish state with an Arab one.

It’s clear that your attitude toward this meeting will depend on which you choose. Defense Minister Ehud Barak apparently likes no. 1:

Barak said he planned to do everything in his power to ensure that the summit would be successful. He has met in recent months several times with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salaam Fayad and was a proponent of the decision to allow 500 armed Palestinian policemen to deploy in Nablus…

“There is a high chance that it [the summit] will succeed,” he said. “It will begin the process. The real test will be when we discuss the core issues when the talks begin after the summit.” — Jerusalem Post

There are others, however, who do not:

“There is no real partner for peace. The Palestinians have a very weak government,” [opposition leader MK Binyamin Netanyahu] told IDF Radio. The unilateral concessions being made by Israel “do not strengthen security but according to every security official opposed to these moves, they endanger the security of Israel’s citizens and soldiers. We have already paid a price for this process and we must stop it,” Netanyahu declared.

Minister for Strategic Matters Avigdor Lieberman told IBA Radio Wednesday that there were two possible outcomes to Annapolis: the first – a complete Israeli surrender to the PA’s demands, and the second – an impasse in the negotiations. He repeated that Israel must demand the PA’s acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state as a precondition for further negotiations. — Arutz Sheva

So which is it? Ami Isseroff seems to think that because the official position of the Israeli government and the point of view of the majority of Israelis is that a negotiated two-state solution is desirable, then anyone who does not support the Annapolis conference might as well join Hamas:

The ZOA and the the anti-peace propaganda of a minority of extremists serves to promote the narrow political views of those groups. In reality, it serves the interests of the enemies of Israel. This vicious and hysterical campaign [against Annapolis] does not represent the position of the government of the state of Israel, nor that of the majority of Israelis, Jewish and non-Jewish. It paints Israel as a pariah state that does not want peace. It paints Zionism as a reactionary movement that desires to use force to dominate the Middle East. It paints the “Israel lobby” as a collection of chauvinistic and xenophobic warmongers, uninterested in the strategic needs and goals of the United States, single-mindedly pursuing an unrealistic messianic vision for Israel. It does more for Arab and Muslim extremism then all the drivel of Mearsheimer and Walt, and all the ill-judged and ignorant diatribes of Jimmy Carter. — ZioNation, ‘The real Zionist position on Annapolis’

But there is a gaping hole in Isseroff’s argument: the unstated premise that the Annapolis conference will advance a peaceful two-state solution.

Most of the arguments of the ZOA which Isseroff targets in his piece are aimed exactly against this premise, and not against such a solution, if it could be achieved:

In November, a U.S.-sponsored conference involving Israel, the Palestinian Authority [PA] and possibly several Arab states will convene in Annapolis to frame yet another plan meant to end the Arab-Israeli war and create a Palestinian state. This conference is doomed to fail. The reason: The Palestinians’ ultimate goal is not statehood, but rather Israel’s destruction.

That fact has remained unchanged since Israel embarked on the disastrous Oslo process with Yasir Arafat in 1993, culminating in a terror war after then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered a Palestinian state on nearly all of the disputed territories, which was rejected.

Despite this, the Bush administration, with international approval, is proceeding on the fiction that Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party, which he co-founded with Arafat and which controls the PA, want peace and accept Israel’s existence as a Jewish state.

If only it were true. The PA is required under signed commitments in the Oslo agreements and also in the 2003 road map peace plan to arrest terrorists, confiscate their weaponry and end the incitement to hatred and murder, including against America, in PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps. It has failed to do so. — Morton Klein, ZOA President [my emphasis]

Klein makes it quite clear that he simply does not believe that the PA and its Arab sponsors have peaceful intentions, and that is why he opposes the Annapolis conference. There is also the issue of Hamas, which is poised to step in and take advantage of any Israeli concessions. It is slander to say that opponents to Annapolis are “opponents of peace”, when they are actually opponents of a pseudo-peace that, like Oslo, will ultimately result in war — a war that will be fought at a strategic disadvantage.

What about option 2, that Annapolis will turn out to be exactly nothing? This is probably the best that we can hope for, but there are rumblings that suggest that we may not be that lucky. Saudi Arabia (in the person of Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisa) has announced that it will attend, as will Syria. It seems to me that the only inducement strong enough to bring them would be a promise from the US that there will be substantive Israeli concessions.

We may find out which description of Annapolis was correct this coming week.

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One Response to “How to best describe the Annapolis conference”

  1. Shimshon 9 says:

    Wave of Palestinian violence after Annapolis…

    Senior Damascus-based Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk was quoted on a Hamas Web site Friday as predicting a fresh wave of Palestinian violence in the wake of the upcoming U.S.-sponsored Middle East peace conference scheduled for next week.
    Already …