The Boston Globe (Editorial)
November 28, 2007 - 3:46pm

No document with principles for a peace accord was signed yesterday in Annapolis, Md., where envoys from 46 countries joined Israeli and Palestinian leaders and President Bush at a gathering meant to launch negotiations on a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. So the Annapolis event can only be judged by what follows it. If yesterday's meeting is to become something more than another missed opportunity for Mideast peace, Israelis, Palestinians, and Americans will have to persevere until they forge a just and durable peace agreement.

They must be guided by the wisdom of Yitzhak Rabin, the assassinated Israeli prime minister who once pledged to negotiate as if there were no terrorism and to fight terrorism as if there were no negotiations. If a suicide bombing, a rocket attack, a kidnapping, or an assassination can sabotage the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations that begin next month, the extremists will be certain to cast that veto.

Once the talks are underway, a great deal of time can be saved if the parties revive some of the provisions negotiated in earlier undertakings - not only from the Camp David talks in the summer of 2000, but also the Clinton proposals broached in December of that year, and the Taba discussions in January 2001, when Israeli and Palestinian negotiators even worked out tentative arrangements to solve the vexing Palestinian refugee issue. One side or the other may want to discard some elements of those earlier proposals. Still, some of the basic terms of a negotiated accord have already been identified. There is no need to reinvent them.

Serious negotiations call for teams of knowledgeable Israelis and Palestinians working to identify areas of agreement, as well as those issues that must be left to the political leaders to thrash out. If the Bush administration is to play a constructive role in the negotiations - as the president and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have said it will - there should also be a team of Americans well-versed in the issues to monitor the Israeli-Palestinian talks, at times shepherding the two sides toward compromise.

If a time comes when the two sides are unable to reconcile their positions on key issues such as the borders of a Palestinian state, the sharing of Jerusalem, and where returning Palestinian refugees may be resettled, Bush and Rice must be prepared to present American proposals for a final-status agreement. They should do so in the knowledge that both peoples want and need a future of two states living side by side in peace.

Once there is a signed peace accord, both peoples will have a chance to vote for it. When that happens, rejectionists in both camps will be shown for what they are: marginal forces opposing the popular will.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017