DELEGATION WARNS ANNAPOLIS MUST SUCCEED
Council for the National Interest Foundation
November 20, 2007
For Immediate Release
A six-person delegation from the Council for the National Interest
Foundation (CNIF) returned from a five-nation tour of the Middle East
warning that the projected peace conference at Annapolis must succeed
or it could result in renewed violence in occupied Palestine.
Presenting their views at the National Press Club on November 16,
members of the delegation, headed Ambassador Robert V. Keeley who is
chairman of CNIF, relayed the concern expressed by many leaders in
Israel and the surrounding states about the steady downgrading of the
conference in Annapolis, from "peace conference," to "conference," and
now to "meeting."
"It will probably become a photo op, with Secretary of State Rice
between a Palestinian and an Israeli," Ambassador Keeley, said in his
The Annapolis conference, which was announced in July by President
Bush, has consumed the time and energies of Secretary Condoleezza Rice
who has made repeated trips to the region to assess its progress by
various parties in Israel and Palestine. It is an attempt by the
present administration to resuscitate the moribund 2002 "Roadmap" that
was never fully embraced by the Israelis or Palestinians.
Ambassador Keeley made the point that people of the Middle East are
eager to meet with NGOs and with any group that might have some
influence on American policy in the region. "People there are
desperate to talk with Americans - to tell their story," he said.
Beginning in Israel, the delegation met with two members of the
Knesset, with NGOs, and peace activists, toured the wall and Jewish
settlements in the area surrounding Jerusalem, and took a trip to
Hebron to talk to Jewish settlers and peace activists. In talks with
Israelis, fears were relayed that Minister of Defense Ehud Barak was
working hard to prevent a peace agreement, and that Prime Minister
Olmert lacked the necessary backing in the Knesset for many of his
The delegation met with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam
Fayyad, Riad al-Maliki, the foreign minister, and Abdel Razzak
al-Yahya, the interior minister. Dan Lieberman, one of the delegation
members, talked about how the Israelis fail to control the settlers
while they keep a very close watch on the Palestinians. He drew
attention to what he saw - the checkpoints, the walls encircling major
towns, the punitive actions, all of which make life difficult if not
unbearable for ordinary Palestinian citizens. Richard Bliss, another
delegation member, was startled by the 30-ft wall, which "has turned
the West Bank into a prison," and the Palestinian's camps, which he
called "urban ghettoes." It was his first visit to the Middle East.
In Jordan, the delegation visited the Palestinian refugee camp at
Jabal Amman, where, as Marlina Garrett, the CNI staffer who
accompanied the group, pointed out, four generations of Palestinians
have lived. In a meeting with the Jordanian foreign minister,
Abdelelah al-Khatib expressed the view that for Annapolis to succeed,
it required at least six months of meetings, and six months of
implementation. The feeling the delegation gathered from meeting with
the minister and other officials was that there was too little
preparation on the one hand, and too little will on the part of the
Israelis for a peace settlement on the other.
In Syria, the delegation met with the deputy vice presidents Farouk
Sharaa and Najah al-Attar, and spent an hour and a half with Khaled
Meshaal, the head of the Hamas political department who lives in exile
in Damascus. He stated that Hamas would grant Israel a "ten-year
hudna (ceasefire), if there is a peace agreement." This position, Gene
Bird, president of CNIF, explained, was exactly the same that had been
told an earlier delegation from CNI in January 2006, when it met with
the then foreign minister Mahmoud al-Zahar.
Milton Viorst, the fifth member of the delegation, spoke on the
situation in Lebanon, where the group met with a large number of high
ranking political figures, including President Emile Lahoud and Prime
Minister Fouad Siniora. The country is now confronting a new crisis
deadline, November 24, when by law the current president must leave
office. If the parliament is unable to come up with a consensus
candidate for the office, it is possible that Hezbollah will set up an
independent government of its own. Many Lebanese are convinced that
the US is intervening in the selection process of the new president -
who, by custom must be a Maronite Christian - to ensure a candidate
who will be favorable to American interests. Viorst refused to predict
what might happen, except that the stability of the country remains
very much in question.
CNI Foundation has sponsored yearly and twice-yearly "political
pilgrimages" to the Middle East, allowing "citizen diplomats" to learn
about the state of US-Middle East relations by meeting political
leaders in Israel and neighboring countries. Dr. Grace Austin of New
Jersey, the sixth member of the delegation, was unable to attend the
For additional information about delegation members and future events
concerning this pilgrimage, please contact us at 202 863-2951 or at
Click here to make a tax-deductible donation:
Council for the National Interest Foundation
1250 4th Street SW, Suite WG-1 · Washington, DC 20024
800.296.6958 · 202.863.2951 · Fax: 202.863.2952
DELEGATION WARNS ANNAPOLIS MUST SUCCEED
TO: Distinguished Recipients
FM: John Whitbeck
Transmitted below is the latest wisdom from Rami Khouri, as published
in the International Herald Tribune.
FATAH AND HAMAS
The vital need for unity
By Rami G. Khouri
Published: November 20, 2007
Mahmoud Abbas's call on Nov. 15 for the Hamas "gang" to be ousted from
Gaza is understandable but misguided. The members of Hamas are no
angels, and the recent shooting by the group's police of seven
Palestinian demonstrators from Abbas' Fatah faction during a rally in
Gaza is the sort of act that blackens its name. Yet for the
Palestinian president to refer to Hamas as a "gang" and ask for its
ouster is only going to worsen the tensions between Palestinians at a
time when precisely the opposite is required.
The Fatah-Hamas discord is a distinctly Palestinian problem, but also
a reflection of a trend throughout the Arab world, where single states
or societies are increasingly being governed by multiple authorities.
These authorities are often proxies for the regional and global powers
that face off in the Middle East, especially the United States, Iran,
Saudi Arabia, Syria and Israel.
Such dual authorities within a single sovereignty make up one of the
more bizarre Arab contributions to modern history, as seen in Lebanon,
Iraq, Sudan and Somalia - and with others likely to follow.
The dilemma in Palestine is the most severe because both Hamas and
Fatah were legitimately elected by the Palestinian people. It is
unlikely that one can defeat the other militarily in all the
Palestinian territories, and we certainly do not wish to see that sort
of clash happen. The brief fighting in Gaza earlier this year that
resulted in Hamas taking control of all of Gaza was a sad spectacle,
but probably an inevitable one. Hamas' claim that it had to defeat the
Fatah security forces because they were planning to attack Hamas, with
Israeli and American backing, will be verified or discredited in due
*by William Pfaff*
*Date* 2007/11/21 11:30:00
Paris, November 20, 2007 -- The New York Times reports that the Bush
government’s frustration in its effort to control events in Pakistan now
has led it to debate direct intervention in that country.
Washington’s desire to strengthen the standing of General Pervez
Musharraf in international -- and also Congressional -- opinion prompted
its recent arrangement for former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s return
from exile, and its promotion of a coalition between the two Pakistani
leaders that might obtain democratic electoral confirmation.
Appealing as this plan will have seemed in Washington, it has been
thwarted by the general. The Bush decision then taken was that Musharraf
is no longer an asset to the United States but an obstacle to its
efforts to defeat the Taliban offensive in Afghanistan by attacking the
movement’s roots in Pakistan -- and possibly, one unlikely day, to
capture Osama bin Laden, assumed to be in the same inaccessible
territories, controlled by Pathan tribes, where the Taliban movement
Featuring: Yoko D'Holbachie, the art and interview with Jonathan Weiner, up all night wih artist Jordan Crane, the subteranean art of Marion Peck , Audrey Kawasaki, Jason D'aquino, and the amazing sculptures of Ron Muek.
Muliti-Page Exposes on Ken Keirns, Apak, Angry Woebots, Bob Dob's Luey's shot by Brian McCarty, Designer Vinyl, and much more yet to be revealed!
Ian Smith, the former prime minister of Britain’s rebellious colony of Rhodesia, who once promised that white rule in Africa would endure for 1,000 years, died yesterday in South Africa. He was 88.
The cause was a stroke suffered at a nursing home near Cape Town, said Sam Whaley, a friend and former senator in Mr. Smith’s Rhodesian Front government.
Mr. Smith’s resistance to black rule led to a unilateral declaration of independence from Britain in 1965 and, later, severe repression and a seven-year guerrilla war, costing about 30,000 lives, most of them black fighters and civilians.
Second only to the apartheid rulers of South Africa, Mr. Smith became a symbol, both to black Africans and many others, of iniquitous white rule.
The land Mr. Smith left behind is markedly different from the one he nurtured before white-ruled Rhodesia became majority-ruled Zimbabwe, an era in which a tiny white minority of mainly settlers of British descent clung to privilege, prosperity and power in the teeth of international pressure.
In the earliest years of independence, in the 1980s, Zimbabwe impressed many outsiders as a stable and prosperous land, where high school enrollment for black children, held back in the long decades of white minority rule, soared and tourism to game parks and the famed Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River flourished.
But in later years the formerly white-owned farms that once fed much of southern Africa and earned millions of dollars in foreign exchange were decimated by a precipitate land-redistribution program. The economy is in tatters, with hyperinflation running at such a pace that currency bills change hands in brick-sized bundles.
© MURAKAMI. Works by Takashi Murakami at MOCA - The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. "...Featuring more than 90 works in various media spanning the early 1990s to the present, this international traveling retrospective is an unprecedented opportunity to survey the depth and breadth of Takashi Murakami's entire career."
Dirk McDonnell: As Light Fell - photographs by Dirk McDonnell at Throckmorton Fine Art in New York, NY. "...McDonnell’s photographs are at once lyrical and elliptical. Most were taken with a large format, 4 x 5 field camera, allowing the artist to explore the idiosyncratic effects that a wracking of the front standard of the view camera can have on photographic space. The work has clarity, emotional depth and edge; it has an intensity that pushes the images toward the boundaries of the medium." More Works by Dirk McDonnell at his personal site.
Ex-Press Aide Links Bush, Cheney to Plame Outing
Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan has implicated President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney in misleading the public on the outing of ex-CIA agent Valerie Plame. As White House spokesperson, McClellan repeatedly claimed senior aides Karl Rove and Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby were not involved in revealing Plame’s identity. But in a forthcoming memoir, McClellan writes: “I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice president, the president’s chief of staff, and the president himself.”
U.S. to Hold 1-Day Mideast Peace Conference
The Bush administration has announced it will hold a long awaited Mideast peace conference next week. The White House says its invited more than fifty countries and institutions to convene in Annapolis, Maryland. State Department Spokesperson Sean McCormack says the U.S. expects the one-day gathering to kick-start final-status talks to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict.
- State Dept. spokesperson Sean McCormack: “This conference will signal international support for the courageous efforts of Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas and will serve as a launching point for negotiations with an eye towards establishing an Israeli and Palestinian state.”
The White House is indicating its top concern ahead of the conference will be to convince Arab nations to attend. A senior administration official told the New York Times: “We’re trying to rally the Arab world for support of this process, and they are master fence-sitters.” But the Bush administration has refused to endorse a five-year-old Arab League-Palestinian plan offering Israel full peace in return for a complete withdrawal from the Occupied Territories. Israel has essentially rejected the deal, claiming it would only agree to unspecified elements. Israeli leaders have long vowed to hold on to the West Bank’s major settlement blocs and water resources.
The Rocker's Hard Places
By Elliott Vanskike,
who is a writer living in Silver Spring
Wednesday, November 21, 2007; C05
By Eric Clapton
Broadway. 343 pp. $26
The articulate, thoughtful rock-and-roller faces a dilemma when he sits down to write his autobiography. Does he give fans what they've come to expect by wallowing in the excesses of sex and drugs? Or does he write an intelligent, reflective book that actually assesses his life in the spotlight? Eric Clapton's autobiography leaves little doubt that he lived the rock-and-roll lifestyle, but there's hardly a trashed hotel room or sordid tryst to be found here. Chastened by his experience as a recovering alcoholic, Clapton writes in a restrained, self-critical, even humble mode.
The early chapters, in which Clapton discusses his childhood in rural England in the late 1940s and through the '50s, are the richest. From whispered conversations among relatives, young Eric pieced together that his mother and father were actually his grandparents. His mother had given birth out of wedlock and left him in their care. She told him when he was 9 that he couldn't call her Mummy and that she didn't want to be part of his life.
His mother's rejection compounded Clapton's feelings of isolation and impelled him toward music, a healing force in which he lost himself. His first guitar was so wondrous it was "like a piece of equipment from another universe." He practiced alone in his room, taping himself over and over as he tried to approximate the players he heard on records. Clapton's enthrallment with the blues began when he heard early-20th-century guitarist Robert Johnson. The intensity of songs like "Hellhound on My Trail" repelled Clapton at first, but he came to find the music "primitively soothing" and, as a teenager, realized he would devote the rest of his life to playing the blues.