Addict (drugaddict) wrote,

Daniel Levy on Annapolis--No. 3- -11/28/07

More Thoughts on Annapolis

The news out of Annapolis is mixed. The optics were certainly all there:
a joint statement, uplifting speeches, impressive attendees list and
presidential commitment. Of course, the statement lacked substance, but
really, it was the statement's existence, not substance, that was
important. Failure to produce a joint statement, even one so bereft of
content, would have been an inauspicious beginning.

When listening to the speech of President Bush versus that of both
Olmert and Abbas, one cannot help but be struck by how jarring, divisive
and dangerous Bush continues to be, with his Star-Wars-esque narrative
of good versus evil - especially when compared to the more
upliftingDarth Vader and empathetic speeches by Olmert and Abbas. It is
this narrative that goes down like a lead balloon in the region and the
policies it begets may well be the biggest obstacle to progress
post-Annapolis. Though we got our nice statements today and there will
be cold hard cash for the Palestinians at the Paris donor’s conference
in three weeks time, it is ultimately the developments in the region,
whether negotiations make progress or are paralyzed and whether the
situation on the ground improves or deteriorates, that will define the
legacy of Annapolis. If the Roadmap, stuck for the past four-and-half
years, is still stuck in a month, and the negotiations are still at an
impasse, all those currently sniping from the sidelines at Annapolis and
looking like mean-spirited spoilers will feel vindicated and be
strengthened. If Annapolis is more aboutBush isolating Iran, defeating
Hamas and generally delivering a blow to DarthVader’s stormtroopers than
it is about delivering a viable and realistic two-state solution – in
other words, more of the same – then we can expect exactly that, more of
the destruction and violence that we have seen over the past seven years.

On this front, it does not bode well that just about everyone appears to
remain in the undecided category on Syria. President Bush was pointed
and cutting in his reference to Lebanon, while the Syrians, for their
part, chose to be represented by only a Deputy Foreign Minister, Faisal
Mekdad. Annapolis does not yet mark the turning of a new page in the
Syria file.

Back on the Israel-Palestine track, if the post-Annapolis process is to
gain real traction, then it must be recognized that a divided
Palestinian polity cannot midwife a stable, implementable peace. The
Hamas spoiler potential is not solely or even principally about its
ability to deploy violence but, rather, about the credibility and
legitimacy of a process that excludes a democratically elected party. No
matter how good the performance at Annapolis, the conflict in question
remains grievance-based and its resolution lies in ending the
occupation. Though this may be a tough little pill to swallow, America
must recognize that the pursuit of an inclusive and comprehensive peace
process is not only crucial to progress in the region, but is also
therefore vital to the American national interest.
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