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Analysis: Peace and Politics in Annapolis

Council on Foreign Relations

Updated: November 27, 2007
Author: Michael Moran

The time may or may not be right, and progress may or may not ensue. But on Monday, for the first time in sixteen years, representatives of the Arab world, Israel, and a host of other interested parties convened under U.S. auspices to talk about peace. President Bush, meeting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ahead of the November 26 opening dinner, pronounced himself optimistic about the talks, and repeated the sentiment in later talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Bush offered a hopeful toast opening the ceremonial dinner Monday evening, saying "we share a common goal: two democratic states—Israel and Palestine—living side by side in peace and security." News reports indicated that Israeli and Palestinian followed the dinner by working through the night in an attempt to narrow differences (AFP) and craft a joint peace statement ahead of negotiations.

Since issuing invitations last week, the administration has claimed a victory of sorts in that all invitees decided to attend, even Saudi Arabia, the subject of a public appeal (Al Bawaba) by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to reject the conference. The Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, tells TIME his country holds out hope for progress, but his attendance should not be misinterpreted as a sign of an impending deal. “It is a very simple equation. Either Israel wants peace or territory. It can't have both.”

Indeed, progress proved harder on concrete issues as the Israeli and Palestinian foreign ministers attempted, right up to the opening of the conference, to reach agreement on a joint declaration meant as a starting point for talks (JPost). Critics seized upon this difficulty as evidence that the Annapolis conference is ill conceived.

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Copyright 2007 by the Council on Foreign Relations. This material is republished on with specific permission from the Reprint and republication queries for this article should be directed to

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