The Annapolis Middle East Peace Conference, held on 27 November at the United States Naval Academy, seems to be a last ditch effort towards a peaceful resolution of the Israeli/ Palestinian conflict by the Bush administration.
The administration has ignored diplomacy by and large over the last seven years and now seems desperate to leave its mark. As Bush is on his way out of office, it is unclear what effect a change in administration will mean for the modest gains of this conference and whether this last ditch effort towards diplomacy will be enough.
While participants hope this is truly the start of the end, after so many false starts over the past decade, the potential may be much greater than the reality.
One thing that is clear is that both sides went in starting with the premise that a two state solution is the future. It was also significant that both Syria and Saudi Arabia were in attendance. This is perhaps a sign that the parties are moving in the right direction.
Both parties, the State of Israel, represented by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, represented by President Mahmoud Abbas, again agreed to implement their performance-based agreements as per the Road Map delineated by the Quartet in April 2003. This Road Map had previously been derailed. Only time will tell if this conference will carry any real weight.
(Issue December 2007 / January 2008)