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Analysis: Ambitions for Annapolis

Council on Foreign Relations

Updated: November 27, 2007
Author: Michael Moran

President George W. Bush placed the United States firmly into the middle of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Tuesday, opening a Middle East peace conference in Annapolis, Maryland with a speech that promised “during my time as president to do all I can to help you achieve this ambitious goal.” He offered words of optimism and encouragement to the Arab, Israeli, and other foreign dignitaries present, and read from a joint understanding agreed to by the two sides pledging to work toward a permanent peace by the end of 2008.

Bush recommitted himself to a Palestinian state but said its nature was just as important as its creation. He said Israel would have to demonstrate a willingness to end unauthorized settlements and make difficult choices, and that the Arab world needed to show “in both word and deed that they believe that Israel and its people have a permanent home in the Middle East.”

The president also laid out the schedule for talks following the conference, which Palestinian-Israeli disagreements had confined to a ceremonial event. He said a steering committee of Israelis and Palestinians would begin meeting on December 12, and that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas would hold biweekly meetings to assess progress (ChiTrib). He also said "the United States will monitor and judge the fulfillment of the commitment of both sides of the road map," a proposition that has proven difficult in the past.

While new agreements are not expected before the conference adjourns, the administration felt bouyed by the fact 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.

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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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