Preparing for Annapolis

images.jpgAstounding but true: seven years after taking power, the Bush administration is only now taking an active role in convening an Israeli-Palestinian peace conference, currently scheduled for late November in Annapolis.

It would not be an understatement to suggest that a great deal is riding on these talks. The potential for failure is huge – indeed, there are any number of players seeking to undermine its success. But it is just as clear how much is at stake. Annapolis may well represent the last window of opportunity to revive the peace process.

A great deal has been written in anticipation of the summit – not surprisingly, the political jockeying has already begun. (I was especially dismayed to read in the Jewish Forward that all five Republican presidential candidates expressed skepticism about the Bush administration’s plans at a Jewish forum last week.) For a more intelligent take on the significance of the talks, I recommend “A Guide to a Successful November International Conference,” a helpful and thorough report recently issued by the Israel Policy Forum. Another worthwhile analysis can be found in a joint letter to President Bush and Secretary Rice from several prominent political/diplomatic figures, including Lee Hamilton, Brent Scowcroft, and Zbigniew Brzezinski. Here’s their welcome conclusion:

The fact that the parties and the international community appear—after a long, costly seven-year hiatus—to be thinking of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is welcome news. Because the stakes are so important, it is crucial to get it right. That means having the ambition as well as the courage to chart new ground and take bold steps.

If you’d like to urge on the peace process yourself, you should know that Representatives Gary Ackerman (D-NY) and Charles Boustany (R-LA) are circulating a sign-on letter to Secretary Rice that commends her for convening the conference and calls for additional steps to ensure its success. In the days leading up to the summit, this kind of peace advocacy is absolutely critical. To urge your Congressional Representative to sign on to the letter, click here.

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