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ProSense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 04:21 PM
Original message
For Bush, the time is right for a photo op
"First, the time is right because Palestinians and Israelis have leaders who are determined to achieve peace," Bush said. "Second, the time is right because a battle is under way for the future of the Middle East and we must not cede victory to the extremists. Third, the time is right because the world understands the urgency of supporting these negotiations."

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Will the results justify the pre-Annapolis boilerplate?

Are you wondering about the Annapolis meeting that will open this week? Will the meeting exceed the low expectations that now embrace it? The confab has already been downgraded from a conference to just a meeting. I have posted an authentic copy of the official boiler plate that has been circulated to U.S. diplomats. In other words, what you read is the language that has been crafted prior to the meeting by State department officials intent on convincing you, and me, that the Annapolis meeting is a bona fide step forward.

Were you the U.S. ambassador to Egypt, the political officer in El Salvador, the cultural affairs officer in Russia, the consular affairs officer in Poland, the economic attache in France or the State deparment spokesperson in Washington, this is the suggested language ("boilerplate") for responding to public inquiries and questions from the press about Annapolis.

The reviews are in:

Palestinian official: Little substance in Bush statement

From Suzanne Malveaux

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Israeli-Palestinian statement read by President Bush at the start of Tuesday's peace summit in Annapolis, Maryland, amounted to a "public relations gimmick," said a legal adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas

Ghaith al-Omari, who attended the conference, said the days following the conference "could change everything."

"The statement has a shelf life of two days," he said. "There's nothing new in it. Events will happen in the next two days that could change everything."

While al-Omari stressed the one-day conference gave him optimism about future negotiations, he said much of Tuesday was about stagecraft.

Diplomats from both delegations, including al-Omari, scrambled early Tuesday to piece together the statement. The final wording was approved only minutes before Bush's 11 a.m. address, in which he announced the agreement to reporters and diplomats, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.

In the statement, Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert agreed to "immediately launch" talks aimed at creating a Palestinian state alongside Israel, and they hope to conclude talks by 2009.


Editorial: Stepping stones to peace

Published: November 28, 2007

Contrary to conventional wisdom, the possibilities for an Israeli-Palestinian agreement are real: But peace needs to be built step by step rather than in a giant leap.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas both know they will have to make major concessions and undertake major commitments to establish any credible agreement that has any chance of holding. But they also know that the very act of making such concessions will open them up to renewed challenges from hard-line Likud party leader Benjamin Netanyahu in Olmert's case and from the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, that already controls Gaza, in the case of Abbas.

Currently, Olmert and Abbas are both weak, largely discredited leaders in their own constituencies, neither of whom has yet been able to step out from the outsize shadows cast by their legendary predecessors Ariel Sharon and Yasser Arafat. American policymakers should therefore realize that while Olmert and Abbas are motivated to cooperate by their mutual weakness, they can both only politically survive to make an agreement between them work if they gain in credibility and strength. And for that to happen, both men must be able to show tangible successes and gains to their populations before any final agreement is reached.


Skepticism greets Mideast talks

Though some express hope that the Israeli-Palestinian summit will spark change, it's seen as little more than a symbolic gesture for many in the troubled region.

By Ken Ellingwood, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
10:42 AM PST, November 28, 2007
JERUSALEM -- Promises by the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to make a fresh attempt at serious peacemaking during the next year was met back at home today with broad doubt that the two sides can reach a lasting agreement that soon.

Though some people found hope for a new start, residents and commentators on both sides for the most part treated the outcome of the U.S.-sponsored peace conference in Annapolis, Md., with the world-weary air of those who have heard it all before.

To many, the gathering produced good speeches but little else to allay concerns that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas lack the public standing to make the politically risky concessions that will be needed to overcome decades of conflict through negotiations.

And people were reminded anew how many blown deadlines already litter this troubled landscape. The U.S.-backed "road map" to peace, unveiled in 2003, envisioned a Palestinian state by 2005, for example.


(2003: President Discusses Roadmap for Peace in the Middle East)

Peace process without Hamas not viable - UN

28 Nov 2007
Source: Reuters

By David Brunnstrom

BRUSSELS, Nov 28 (Reuters) - A Palestinian peace process that does not include Hamas cannot be viable, the head of the U.N. Palestinian refugee agency said on Wednesday, after talks in the United States to try and revive the effort.

Karen AbuZayd, head of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), said more political pressure was needed to resolve the split between rival Palestinian factions Fatah, which controls the West Bank, and Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.

Asked at a news conference if she felt a peace process that did not include Hamas was viable, she replied:

"I don't think it's viable at all and I think that's what the Palestinians themselves are saying, including the Palestinian authorities in (West Bank capital) Ramallah."

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas pledged at a 44-nation conference at Annapolis in the United States on Tuesday to try to forge a peace treaty by the end of 2008 that would create a Palestinian state.

But Hamas Islamists who control the Gaza Strip after the collapse of a unity government with Abbas's Fatah in June have rejected the peace drive and vowed to undermine it.


ANALYSIS-After Annapolis, 2020 vision remains elusive

Via Washington Monthly blog, this neocon op-ed gets one thing right: it was a party, a photo op.

WHY WAIT FOR ACTUAL RESULTS?....Talk about the soft bigotry of low expectations. In the LA Times today, hawk's hawk Zev Chafets writes that today's Annapolis peace conference is a resounding vote of confidence in George Bush:

This is Bush's bash. His name is on the invitation. The party is at his place. The guests are strictly A-list. Every country that matters, and a lot that don't, will be represented. The European Union, the United Nations and the Arab League will be there too. They are all coming for the same reason: They have been summoned by the one man in the world to whom no one wants to say no.

It turns out that Bush, far from wrecking America's prestige and influence, has compounded it....Despite the assurances of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the U.S. has not been humiliated in Mesopotamia. On the contrary, the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and the subsequent determination of the American occupation have concentrated the minds of the (ever fewer) anti-American Arab despots.

Did you get that? Bush has compounded American prestige and influence, and the evidence is the mere fact that people are willing to show up at Annapolis. The last time I saw someone set a bar that low I was surrounded by a crowd of tipsy revelers while Chubby Checker blared "Limbo Rock" in the background.

Analysis and Bush comments before and after he pushed for Palestinian elections in 2006, despite objections from Abbas:

Bush hopes Palestinian election goes forward

January 3, 2006

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush wants Palestinian elections to go forward as scheduled this month with no delay and thinks Palestinians should be allowed to vote in East Jerusalem, a White House official said on Tuesday.

Bush is hoping the January 25 vote will mark a step forward in his vision of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace.


"It's our desire to see the elections go forward as scheduled," said a White House spokesman.


"We believe that people must have access to the ballot," the White House spokesman said. "Arrangements have been made in the past to ensure that those persons can vote and we believe some arrangements should be possible at this time."


Washington -- President Bush said the results of the January 25 Palestinian parliamentary elections present a "wake-up call" to the incumbent Fatah party leadership, reflecting voter dissatisfaction and a desire for change. However, he said HAMAS, which appears set to assume a clear majority in the 132-seat legislature, cannot be a "partner in peace" if its platform calls for the destruction of Israel.

The parliamentary elections mark the first time HAMAS has participated in national elections. Previously, the party has only fielded candidates in municipal elections. If preliminary indications are confirmed, HAMAS is set to end Fatahs domination of the legislature, which it has enjoyed since the previous parliamentary elections in 1996.

Speaking January 26 at a White House press conference, President Bush noted the high voter turnout and said the results "remind me about the power of democracy."

"Obviously, people, were not happy with the status quo. The people are demanding honest government. The people want services. They want to be able to raise their children in an environment in which they can get a decent education, and they can find health care. And so the elections should open the eyes of the old guard there in the Palestinian territories," he said.


Analysis: Hamas Victory a Message for Bush

By ANNE GEARAN, AP Diplomatic Writer
1 hour, 2 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - After making democracy a defining marker for American foreign policy, President Bush got a jolting message from Palestinian voters: Be careful what you wish for.

The United States promoted the democratic Palestinian election that now has produced an upset victory for the militant Islamic group Hamas. The election could install an organization the United States considers terrorist in place of a Palestinian leadership that, while weak, was pledged to work with Israel and with Washington.

The administration is caught between Bush's clarion rhetoric about spreading liberty even in unlikely places and the reality that self-determination can yield results that appear counter to U.S. interests. That's a challenge the United States may have to confront someday in other places as well, including Iraq, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Central Asia, the Balkans and closer to home South America.


Bush seemed mindful of that, even as he could not disguise his irritation.

"It was an interesting day yesterday ... as we're watching liberty begin to spread across the Middle East," he said.

The current photo op is another attempt by Bush to get press mileage from the appearance of doing something. It's anything to distract from Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Turkey.

Besides, he's desperate:

Bush, who started his presidency deeply skeptical of getting too heavily engaged in the peace process, has a motive to get his hands dirty these days -- his legacy on the Mideast is under fire because of the war in Iraq.

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Vinca Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 04:26 PM
Response to Original message
1. A photo op encouraged by the media.
Why don't they ask him if it's not just a little hypocritical to be on his new mission for Middle East peace while operating a WAR in the middle of it?
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ProSense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 10:31 PM
Response to Reply #1
4. It wasn't about peace, it
was a photo op. You're right, for Bush Iraq is the exception. It is his excuse for everything since 9/11.
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pinto Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 04:34 PM
Response to Original message
2. Great compilation. Thanks for the post.
The fratboy-in-chief's smugness about his 'role' in setting the players straight then 'sending them off' to forge a bright new future (echoed by some in the press, as you note)was pretty amazing. Humility, it seems, remains for the little guys of the world.

A one-day, fly-in meeting is a photo op farce.
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ProSense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 06:09 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. Exactly!
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BleedingHeartPatriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-29-07 08:41 AM
Response to Reply #3
5. But what if he's out riding his bike when the call is made?
Edited on Thu Nov-29-07 08:43 AM by BleedingHeartPatriot
:shrug: MKJ
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BrklynLiberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-29-07 09:20 AM
Response to Original message
6. His attitude...even if you are running in place, you are running and someone will think you are
actually going someplace.
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