By pushing Israel to accept immediate negotiations with the Palestinians on the thorny “final status” issues, with the aim to conclude a peace settlement within a year, the Bush administration is trying to attract a significant Arab presence at the peace conference in Annapolis, Md.
The meeting in Annapolis, now penciled in to start Nov. 26 and last less than 24 hours, is meant to begin — and bless — negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian leaders on a final peace agreement between them, ostensibly to be completed by the end of the Bush presidency.
The all-out push essentially speeds to the end of the now dormant 2003 “road map” for peace by insisting that the big issues once relegated to later discussion, like the status of Jerusalem and the return of Palestinian refugees, be addressed immediately, even before the Palestinians begin to dismantle terrorist groups and networks.
Simultaneously, the Americans will push both sides to carry out their obligations as laid out in the first stage of the road map, involving complex security and settlement issues, American and Israeli officials say. To press for action, which would involve painful decisions on both sides, the Americans will choose a senior official with a background in security to monitor progress. In the words of a senior American diplomat, “We’ll be assiduously fair, and very tough, and if necessary we will be public,” so that failure will have consequences.
As a senior official put it, “We had to break this tyranny of the first stage of the road map before talking of final status” so that the year of negotiations will give the two parties the incentive and the time to prove to each other that they can end up as peaceful neighbors.
"Tyranny", eh? Maybe the American democracy is beginning a bit too tyrannical itself?