On the Annapolis Conference

Posted by Robert Danin
December 3, 2007
Annapolis Conference

Dr. Robert Danin, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs, writes about his views of the Annapolis Conference that took place November 27, 2007 in Annapolis, Maryland.

Though the United States has played the leading role as mediator in Arab-Israeli conflict for decades, Annapolis was the first international conference on the Middle East hosted on American soil. As the host, the United States was responsible for much of what transpired, from structuring the form and content of the conference, to orchestrating the participation of nearly fifty delegations that came from overseas to the day long event--no simple feat, given that some of the countries participating in the conference are still technically at war with one another.

One of the most significant challenges was in trying to help the Israelis and Palestinians reach agreement on a joint understanding, on which they had been working for months without success.

When the Palestinian and Israeli delegations arrived in Washington on the Sunday before the Annapolis conference, they still hadn't agreed on a text. American officials spent the next two days criss-crossing Washington to consult with both sides on how to bridge their differences.

With the conference set to convene at 11 a.m., Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas met with the President in Annapolis early on Tuesday morning. American, Israeli and Palestinian officials had worked through most of the night trying to reach a shared understanding. On Tuesday morning, with the strong encouragement of the President and Secretary Rice, the two sides managed to reach agreement on a joint understanding to launch negotiations on the full range of issues between them.

Many of the conference participants were clearly feeling anxious. British Foreign Secretary Miliband captured the sentiment, when he noted that in 1993 at the signing of the Oslo Accords "the late Prime Minister Rabin talked of an atmosphere of hope tinged with apprehension; today in the region there is an atmosphere of apprehension tinged with occasional hope." Having seen an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement within reach before, only to see it cascade into six years of violence, terror, and bloodshed, such apprehensions are understandable. As one member of an Arab delegation, a friend for a number of years, said to me as he arrived: "if today doesn't go well, we are all going to be in big trouble!" I noted that responsibility for producing results was shared by all of us.

But all the anxiety and worry that the participants brought to the conference largely dissipated as President Bush, with President Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert seated by his side, read out the text of the agreement to the participants. The President announced the launching of negotiations towards the establishment of a Palestinian state, with the goal of reaching an agreement prior to the end of 2008.

Upon the conclusion of the President's remarks, the hall erupted in applause. President Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert appeared visibly pleased—and relieved— that they had achieved a basis on which they would be able to move forward.

By the afternoon, the sense of excitement from the morning session gave way to a more relaxed atmosphere. Some Arab officials mixed openly and cordially with Israeli delegates, even though their countries do not currently have diplomatic relations. This positive atmosphere fueled the desire of nearly every delegation to support the efforts announced by the President to advance Israeli-Palestinian peace. As the conference concluded at the end of a long day, I ran into my friend who in the morning had been so anxious. "It worked, Congratulations!" he exclaimed, this time visibly beaming, pleased that the Annapolis conference that brought together Israelis, Palestinians, and the majority of the Arab League, had produced meaningful results. We parted ways, knowing that our work is only now really beginning.



December 4, 2007

A in Syria writes:

Yes, it does look like Asfourieh.

New Mexico, USA
December 4, 2007

Eric in New Mexico writes:

The rejectionists and irreconcilables are having fits, and the cynics are doing the media spin thing. So while the going may get insane, the sane best get busy.

December 4, 2007

Yu in China writes:

The peace of the Middle East is very difficult to reach, but I hope that the conference will be in pursuit of some positive results.

California, USA
December 4, 2007

Mary in California writes:

I heard that Jews/Israelis were not only required to use a separate entrance but had to come through the service entry of the pantry. I heard this applied to women as well. I am offended. Since when did Cond0leezza Rice, who claims she grew up under the Jim Crow laws, decide that it was OK to apply the Jim Crow laws to Jews/Israelis?

I heard that women also had to come through the pantry. I don't know whether that was true. My question. Did Condoleezza also use the pantry door since she is a woman?

Totally disgusted.

You are a morally bankrupt institution.

New Mexico, USA
December 5, 2007

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ A in Syria -- A in Syria writes:

"Yes, it does look like Asfourieh"

Hey A, just a quick question for clarification...please.

Were you referring to...??

"Asfourieh" (Lebanon Hospital for Mental and Nervous Disorders).

(chuckle ) Had to ask.

Perhaps an excerpt (as best I remember) from a diary of the life of a Buddhist monk in China some 1500 years ago may lend a totally unbiased perspective for Peace in this context as well as others.

Monks in that era had this "educational system" where the monks would travel and visit with many teachers to broaden outlook. This is such an exchange:

"What have you been doing?""I have not concerned myself with the Four Noble Truths."

[The four noble truths being; Suffering, the causes of suffering, the process of suffering, and the end of suffering.]

"Are you happy yet? ""It would be wrong to say that I am unhappy, it is as if I had just grasped a bright pearl in a pile of dung."

Florida, USA
December 5, 2007

Yonaton in Florida writes:

It was little more than a KKK meeting planning a lynching with the consent of the victim.

Bush is aligning the USA with, and carrying water for, the Racist Saudis. As Pam Geller relates here...

"Submitting to Saudi demands, the Americans prohibited Israeli representatives from entering the hall through the same door as the Arabs.
It is unfathomable to consider this with any other race, creed or color. Imagine separate entrances for the leader of an African nation because a "white" leader refused to walk through the same door as the black man? Because it would be unclean."


"Appeasing and continuing in this tragedy, Condi Rice later proclaimed," 'I know what it's like as a Palestinian.'" Such willful stupidity is unacceptable in a US Secretary of State. Rice knows little about the history of the Middle East, the politics, the Koran, the Jews, none of it. This ignorant remark says it all, the Palestinians are not the blacks of the Civil Rights movement or era, Abbas is not the great non-violent civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King (what an insult to even think this!) and Dr. King was a Zionist, lover of Israel and the Jewish people's right to it."

In fact, the Saudis are far worse than the racists she knew as a child,
and the "Palestinians" are worse still.
They hate her, and mock her to her face, and she smiles obliviously.

How can our leaders be so blind?!

Anyone who thinks that Abbas, the right hand of that demon Arafat for more than 30 years, is a "man of peace" is utterly deluded. Doesn't Mr. Bush know that the main perpetrator of terror isn't Hamas, but Abbas's Fatah?

By supporting them, Bush makes America into it's own #1 enemy by being a state sponsor of Terror against Jews and Americans. And he makes a mockery of his "war on terror" by willfully supporting the very foe who gave the world airline hijacking and suicide bombers thus making 9/11 possible.

WAKE UP! If not for Israel's sake, then for America's!

Florida, USA
December 5, 2007

Yonaton in Florida writes:

@ A in Syria -- "Asfourieh"

If only that were all it were.

Louisiana, USA
December 14, 2007

Vaughn in Louisiana writes:

I can understand wanting to help the Palestinians to help themselves, but to affirm and support terrorist groups as the government and then to fund them is irrational. Not only are the funding them but they are training and arming them via the Fatah movement.These groups have since made laws and declarations that refuse to recognize Israel and furthermore have vowed to destroy Israel. Show me the logic in funding, training, affirming & equipping terrorists. You do the world a disservice by siding with the Palestinians when they refuse to do so much as recognize Israel. Meanwhile you continue to coerce Israel into making even more concessions despite their having gone out on a limb several times, with laughable results. You are now no better than the UN who relentlessly blames Israel for everything that goes wrong in the middle east when all they are doing is trying to survive in the face of immeasurable hatred and threats.


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