Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Not nothing at Annapolis, but . . .

Well, the Annapolis meeting to broker Israeli Palestinian peace talks has ended with a general statement and a promise to keep meeting every two weeks. That's not nothing, but it doesn't offer much that's concrete about the problems facing both parties. Olmert of Israel and Abbas of the Palestinian Authority are both weak leaders who don't command much respect in the countries they purportedly represent. And you could say the same about Bush.

When Israelis and Palestinians get together they may speak the same words, but they don't often mean the same things. Both sides tend to demand firm commitments from the other while interpreting their own commitments much more . . . flexibly. I don't see any news about working groups being formed to grapple with the tough endgame questions, like the borders of Israel, the right of return, the status of Jerusalem, the ability of Fatah to control terrorism . . . the list goes on and on. I don't see a commitment to taking small steps first. I don't see a commitment from Arab states rolling in petrodollars to start investing in Palestine when the first few baby steps are taken, to create jobs and the kind of economic development that might look like a payoff for peace progress. Instead I see extraneous demands about the Golan Heights and Syria. And I see the Bushlet seeming to believe he's become a great statesman. Ah, well. Maybe just talking isn't a bad thing. But as the Greeks noted, hubris before nemesis.

No comments: