Monday, October 15, 2007

Annapolis 1786 and 2007

Here's an interesting bit of American history. The Annapolis Convention of 1786, which was convened after the Articles of Confederation proved inadequate for the United States, was a failure. Eight states snubbed it. The five states that showed up did achieve one thing - they called for another convention in Philadelphia, which would eventually produce the constitution and create "a more perfect Union".

Why the history lesson? Because it seems like the Israeli-Arab peace conference scheduled to take place in Annapolis next month is doomed to be snubbed by most Arab states, and quite possibly by the two main parties - Israel and the Palestinians. Every day the newspaper headlines show warnings from different countries warning about things that may doom the Annapolis conference to failure. Israel is complaining about rockets from Gaza and the Egyptians allowing arms and terrorists into Gaza. The Palestinians are complaining about roadblocks within the West Bank. The Egyptians and Jordanians, as well as other Arab countries have issued warnings of their own that if this or that will not be fixed they will not attend. Even the host, the United States, is thinking of postponing the conference.

At this point, it seems Annapolis will fail in achieving a settlement. The most I'm hoping for is a repeat of the 1786 Convention in the form of an agreement to hold another conference, which would be more successful. This can be achieved. The two sides can get as close as possible to an agreement but realize they don't have the political capital at home to get it approved, so they'll announce they've made progress but need another conference, possibly in a few months from now, when the outcomes of the criminal investigations against Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will be clearer, and thus the political scene more stable.

The most irritating thing about this ongoing conflict is that there is a consensus between Israelis and Palestinians regarding most of the issues, but two main problems stand - refugees and Jerusalem. Both sides have to be very creative in finding solutions here, because currently the two sides' positions are the exact opposite of one another.

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