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The Annapolis folly: No handshakes

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By Michelle Malkin  •  November 23, 2007 05:20 PM

annapolis summit
Logo credit: Ellen Horowitz

The build-up to the letdown continues. I’m talking about the Annapolis Mideast Peace Capitulation Summit. Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia, have announced they’ll “grudgingly” attend. But they are already warning they won’t be publicly shaking any hands. Of course not:

Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations grudgingly agreed Friday to attend next week’s U.S.-sponsored Mideast peace conference, despite failing to get any guarantee of Israeli concessions.

In a sign of the skepticism, even among close U.S. allies, the Saudi foreign minister cautioned that there would be no public handshakes with Israeli officials at the gathering Tuesday in Annapolis, Md.

Still, the Arab League’s decision to participate marked a success for the United States, which had pushed hard for regional powerhouse Saudi Arabia to attend the conference.

It was unclear whether another key player, Syria, would show up, even though it was part of the Arab League’s collective decision to participate.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said his government was waiting to see if the agenda addressed its priority issue — the return of the Golan Heights, captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war. U.S. officials have said Syria would be free to raise any issue it wants.

The meeting will include discussions on a “comprehensive” Arab-Israel peace deal. But it is mainly intended to launch Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations after a lull of seven years, and Washington had pushed for a strong Arab presence to show support.

Arab leaders made clear they were on board in part to ensure that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas does not make any damaging concessions to Israel in any negotiations on a final peace deal. Israel has dangled the possibility of an accord as early as the end of 2008.

The NYSun wisely warns against Clintonian legacy-seeking:

As Mr. Bush and his state secretary near their final year in office, there is a natural tendency to grasp for a legacy. But we have been down that road before, to disastrous effect. President Clinton’s desperation at Camp David demonstrated that a final Arab-Israeli settlement with this Palestinian Arab leadership is chimerical. Better to invest the energy and time of the principals in dealing with the Iranian, Saudi, and Syrian threats, while leaving the details between the Israelis and the Palestinian Arabs to lower-level functionaries, and pursuing — at a strategic level — the standing of those Palestinian Arabs who are prepared to place a bet on free markets and liberal democracy.

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Our own hope for Mr. Bush’s final year in office lies with his second inaugural, in which he picked up on themes laid down by President Kennedy, in his own inaugural (as we discussed in an editorial at the time that ran under a the headline “John Fitzgerald Bush.” The most stirring phrases from Mr. Bush’s speech were those that seemed aimed almost directly at the unfree people’s overseas, those in the dungeons who were looking for signs from America that it understood their plight and was on their side. We recall the writings of Natan Sharansky about how he took inspiration from the hard line being pursued by President Reagan. The danger at Annapolis will be in sending the opposite signal, that America is prepared, while people are still in dungeons, to meet with the tyrants who are keeping them there. It may be true that Israel herself is desiring a dialog with its enemies. But quite apart from the workaday details of the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs, Mr. Bush and his envoys will need to be careful of the signals they send at Annapolis, lest dispirit the very partisans of freedom we want to be helping.

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Dore Gold asks: “Is U.S. Policy Changing on Israel’s Rights in a Peace Settlement?”

At the Jerusalem Post, Ehud Olmert gets a turkey award.

Caroline Glick
: American Folly

Posted in: Israel