Tuesday's meeting of Abbas and Olmert Seems to Confirm Rumors of Slow Down
Israeli foreign minister opposes her prime minister's delay of Jerusalem issue
Salam Fayyad claims little progress on the ground in peace process
Speaking in the U.S. at the Aspen Institute, Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad said that three months after the Annapolis meetings little has changed on the ground as far as Israel's efforts are concerned.
While, according to Tony Blair, the Palestinians have made progress on security issues, Fayyad said that with respect to road blocks and settlements, "You see no change in the way that Israel operates."
The "Annapolis Process" seems to be foundering in the eyes of both Israeli and Palestinian officials
Israel's vice premier, Haim Ramon and the Palestinian Authority's prime minister, Salam Fayyad have recently expressed their doubts that a final settlement will be reached this year, though a month ago in Ramallah President Bush said he thought it could happen. The sticking point is once again Jerusalem. Acknowledging the current weakness of his party, Ramon said, "Sooner or later, we will deal with Jerusalem and then we will have problems."
|Michael B. Oren, author of arguably the best account of the Six Day War, had an op-ed piece in the New York Times this weekend. It makes the point that Annapolis succeeded not so much as a peace conference but as a prelude to further conflict in which moderate Middle Easterners of all stripes will oppose the"extremism" of Iran.|
According to the end of day statements, the Annapolis meetings set December 12 as the date for substantive Israeli-Palestinian final status talks in a projected year-long process.
I have noted elsewhere that only when there is a fortuitous collision of interests and outside interventions does momentum shift in the century long conflict over Jerusalem (a microcosm of the larger impasse). It seems such a crucial shift might be round the corner.
According to the Economist magazine, the Annapolis conference "ended with a commitment to the goal of a Palestinian state, and a promise of immediate talks, but with no mention of borders, Jerusalem or Jewish settlements on the West Bank. Hamas, the rejectionist Islamist group that controls the Gaza Strip, held a huge rally and denounced Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president."