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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Middle East peace conference in Annapolis

I am optimistic about this new peace process. I think Condie Rice and Bush can do some great things in this arena, and I am certain that Syria and Palestine are ready and eager. Here is the quick and easy copy paste of the what I found so far (without a lot of my analysis/take) - I will add more in-depth info and insights later in comments. - Ian Bach

The Washington Post reports on its front page that "Russia and the United States are tentatively planning a second Middle East peace conference, in Moscow in early 2008, with major parties hoping to begin a comprehensive peace effort that would include direct talks between Israel and Syria, according to US, Russian, Arab and European officials." The Post adds, "Syria's delegate to this week's talks in Annapolis said yesterday that Damascus wants a Moscow gathering in order to begin negotiations between Syria and Israel over the Golan Heights, a border region seized by Israel during the 1967 war."

Rice Links Own Experience To Crisis The Washington Post, in a positive review of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's performance, reports, "When the cameras were turned off at the Middle East peace conference in Annapolis on Tuesday and the media were hustled out of the room...Rice and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni provided some of the most arresting moments of the private gathering of top international officials." According to the Post, Livni "opened her speech with a challenge" to her Arab counterparts present, saying, "Why doesn't anyone want to shake my hand? "Why doesn't anyone want to be seen speaking to me?" The Post moves on to Rice, who "brought the meeting to close with highly personal and reflective comments that connected her childhood in the segregated South with the challenges facing Israelis and Palestinians." To the Israelis, Rice spoke of the experience of having local black churches bombed by white separatists, and to the Palestinians, she said "I know what it is like to hear to that you cannot go on a road or through a checkpoint because you are Palestinian. ... I understand the feeling of humiliation and powerlessness."

Palestinian Negotiator Upbeat A number of media reports on the budding Mideast peace process appear to reflect the cautious sense of optimism of the participants in the Annapolis conference. Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erekat, for example, said on PBS's NewsHour, "After seven years of stalemate, seven years of killing fields between Palestinians and Israelis, President Bush managed to provide this opportunity for us, the Palestinians and Israelis. ... The difference between yesterday and Camp David so many years ago was the Arabs were here, all of them, and the Syrian presence was very significant, and the Saudi presence was very significant. ... Nobody could have done what happened in Annapolis but President Bush. Now, people can say, 'Why did he wait seven years? Why did he do this?' But I believe that, in the last two years, Secretary Rice, to her credit, has done a fantastic job, in my opinion. She went all the way. She got the knowledge of all the little issues. She's very, very well aware now."