On 11/20/2007 USA issued official invitations to the Annapolis “peace conference” scheduled next week, the 11/27/2007.
The Arab League, Syria and other Muslim countries have yet to decide their position toward the Annapolis gathering. The Syrian attitude depends on the concessions that USA will offer to Syria in the Lebanese presidential election deadlock and in the Israeli practical approach toward the Golan Hights issue.
The Lebanese Presidential election crisis is expected to reach its match-point at the end of November, when USA and the international community will be pre occupied with the Annapolis peace conference.
Indeed, on 11/20/2007 Syria and Iran rejected all compromises offered by France about the possible candidate to be elected as President of Lebanon. Friday the 11/23/2007 is the last day of ÉEmile Lahoud’s presidential term and failure to agree on a successor will deepen a year-long political crisis and could result in two governments – one opposed to Syrian influence and the other backed by Damascus. Syrian rejection is a bad signal for USA about the price that Syria demands for participating in Annapolis. (see – LEBANESE crisis)
Arab countries, like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, do not wish to flare up the Islamic opposition by raising the issue of peace with Israel. All the Arab countries, except Syria, have nothing to gain in a peace process with Israel. The status-quo which enables them to blame Israel for any problem on one hand and to keep unofficial relations with Israel on the other hand, as so many Arab countries practice, is in the interest of most of the Arab world. In order to avoid internal conflict with their Islamic opposition the Arab countries are obliged to condition their participation in any peace process with very extreme conditions. For The Arab World a peace process with Israel, now, is nothing but a headache.
Yesterday, 11/19/2007, Israeli PM Ehud Ulmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, failed, once again, to agree upon a common statement to be published in the closing ceremony of the Annapolis “Peace Conference”.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is facing an internal conflict with Hamas and eventually bears the responsibility to keep the Palestinian society, in the long run, intact. Nothing is controversial and divides the Palestinian society as a peace process with Israel. The chance of Mahmoud Abbas to consolidate the Palestinian society behind his Fatah party by making substantial concession in the sacred Palestinian “Right of Return”, which Israel cannot accept under any condition, is almost zero.
From the other side PM Ehud Ulmert is considered in the Israeli public as responsible for the neglectful conduction of the summer 2006 war in Lebanon, is perceived zigzagging in his policy too many times and without a clear vision about the future of Israel. PM Ehud Ulmert also faces deep mistrust in Israeli public and politics in reference to the Palestinian society and the prospect of any peace process with Palestinians. After all, the tradition of the relations between Israel and the Palestinians is that whatever was agreed upon was never fulfilled later. The splitting in the Palestinian society gives no hope that the current process will be, somehow, different.
It seems to be that, except USA and more specifically Condoleezza Rice, no one has a genuine interest in Annapolis. The first to pay the price of Annapolis will be, no doubt, the Lebanese people.
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