An Orwellian story on the Annapolis Appeasement Party: it’s Israel that isn’t ready for peace. Forget about those suicide bombers and the annihilationist rhetoric. The ones who don’t want peace are, of course, the Jews. Maybe Matthew Lee means that Israel isn’t ready for total surrender.
Meanwhile, there is nothing much in this document. They’re going to establish a Palestinian state. Great. But then, unless Israel decides to rush headlong to suicide, that will stall on the Palestinian unwillingness to recognize Israel. Or it will stall when the Palestinians recognize Israel but then in Arabic say the opposite, and act as if they still believe it has no legitimacy. And they are certain to do that.
“Israel, Palestinians OK negotiating plan,” by Matthew Lee for Associated Press:
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Israeli and Palestinian leaders agreed Tuesday to immediately resume long-stalled talks toward a deal by the end of next year that would create an independent Palestinian state, using a U.S.-hosted Mideast peace conference to launch their first negotiations in seven years.
In a joint statement read by President Bush, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas pledged to start discussions on the core issues of the conflict next month and accepted the United States as arbiter of interim steps.
“We agree to immediately launch good-faith bilateral negotiations in order to conclude a peace treaty resolving all outstanding issues, including all core issues without exception, as specified in previous agreements,” it said.
“We agree to engage in vigorous, ongoing and continuous negotiations and shall make every effort to conclude an agreement before the end of 2008,” said the document, which was reached after weeks of intense diplomacy and was uncertain until just before Bush announced it.[…]
Yet none of those difficult issues were mentioned in the joint document, which was to be endorsed by the conference participants, including key Arab nations like Saudi Arabia and Syria, later in the day.
And, despite their agreement and impassioned rhetoric, neither Olmert nor Abbas showed any sign of yielding on the fundamental differences that have led to the collapse of all previous peace efforts: the borders of a Palestinian state, the status of disputed Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees.
But Olmert did promise that “the negotiations will address all the issues which thus far have been evaded. We will not avoid any subject. While this will be an extremely difficult process for many of us, it is nevertheless inevitable.”
For his part, Abbas made an impassioned appeal to Israelis to support the peace process, saying that war and terrorism “belong to the past.”
Oh yeah? Well, since you are one of the chief ones responsible for it, now you will have to back up those words.
“Neither we nor you must beg for peace from the other. It is a joint interest for us and you,” he said. “Peace and freedom is a right for us, just as peace and security is a right for you and us.”
“It is time for the cycle of blood, violence and occupation to end. It is time for us to look at the future together with confidence and hope. It is time for this tortured land that has been called the land of love and peace to live up to its name,” Abbas said.
Occupation. Most will take this to mean he will accept the 1967 borders. But they weren’t acceptable to the Palestinians before 1967.
His speech was immediately rejected by Hamas, which stormed to power in the Gaza Strip in June, a month before Bush announced plans for the peace conference.
Abbas “has no mandate to discuss, to agree, or to erase any word related to our rights,” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in Gaza. “He is isolated (and) represents himself only.”
In the face of such resistance, Arab support for the process is deemed essential and Olmert, speaking directly to those at the conference who have no relations with his country, said: “It is time to end the boycott and alienation toward the state of Israel.”
“We no longer and you no longer have the privilege of clinging to dreams which are disconnected from the suffering of our peoples,” he said.
After reading aloud the freshly reached agreement, Bush shook hands with Abbas and Olmert. Then those leaders shook each other’s hands.
To maximize the moment of potential breakthrough, the three went through the gestures again. This time, they clasped hands together. And, for a moment, Bush stepped back and raised his hands to encourage the other two to come together for a handshake, which they did.
It harkened back to a memorable image of his predecessor, Bill Clinton, in one of his own Mideast efforts.[…]
Yes, and so much came from that!
Saeb Erekat, a principal Palestinian negotiator, sounded upbeat, saying that after seven years of a stalemate “now we have an opportunity” to get back to serious talks with broad backing.
“We have the whole world. We have President Bush. And it is going to be two states living side by side in peace,” Erekat said. “Today is over. What’s important is tomorrow.”
Privately, however, members of the Palestinian delegation expressed skepticism that a deal resolving all the so-called final status issues could be reached within a year, and by the end of Bush’s term in January 2009.
The joint document is general and doesn’t deal with the difficult issues that that long divided Israel and the Palestinians. And the negotiation process is expected to be very tough and very long, according to Palestinians, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they didn’t want to publicly spoil the conference’s positive atmosphere.
The Palestinians believe Israel is not ready for total peace and Olmert will face a difficult time politically as any deal takes shape. Meantime, Abbas is seen as reliable, but also weak and a leader who can’t in the end deliver on an agreement.