Last July President Bush announced the regional peace conference to be chaired by Secretary Rice and attended by representatives from nations that support a two-state solution, reject violence, recognize Israel’s right to exist, and commit to all previous agreements between the parties. I thought it be an extremely small meeting.
We knew the conference was to occur in Annapolis. Now a date has finally been set, and the State Department has issued an annoucement:
On November 27, the United States will host Israeli Prime Minister Olmert, Palestinian Authority President Abbas, along with the Members of the Quartet, the Members of the Arab League Follow-on Committee, the G-8, the permanent members of the UN Security Council, and other key international actors for a conference at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
Secretary Rice will host a dinner the preceding evening here in Washington, where President Bush will deliver remarks. President Bush and the Israeli and Palestinian leaders will deliver speeches to open the formal conference in Annapolis.
And Secretary Rice has issued enough invitations to make it a big party:
Arab League Secretary General
EU High Rep
EU Pres Portugal
Quartet Special Envoy Tony Blair
United Arab Emirates
I don’t think I was wrong to say that if a regional conference was limited to those who reject violence, recognize Israel’s right to exist, and commit to all previous agreements between the parties, it would be a small meeting. Between July and November, something gave. Syria, for example, is still in a state of perpetual war with Israel. The Palestinian Authority itself doesn’t recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. As Bret Stephens notes:
Among the principles sharply in dispute is whether Israel is a Jewish state. “We will not agree to recognize Israel as a Jewish state,” says Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, adding that “there is no country in the world where religious and national identities are intertwined.”
Noah Pollak comments (and wonders):
It’s a relief to see that Pakistan has been invited