Middle East News: World Press Roundup

A New York Times editorial stresses the importance of serious and sustained U.S. involvement if Mideast peace-making has any chance of success (1.) The Washington Post examines how the wide international and Arab participation at the Annapolis meeting and their commitment to support re-launched negotiations is an important achievement (2.) Also in the Post, an opinion by David Ignatius analyzes the text of the joint understanding to flesh out the achievements and failures of the meeting (3.) The CSIS Mideast Program's deputy director Haim Malka suggests some practical post-Annapolis steps to achieve a peace agreement (5.) The Los Angeles Times looks at how hardening public attitudes and weak leaders stand as challenges to peace prospects (6.) A Boston Globe editorial emphasizes the future 'bridging' role of the U.S. in peace negotiations (8.) The Jewish Telegraphic Agency identifies the new U.S. role as the sole arbiter of an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement as the major achievement of Annapolis (11.) BBC (UK) examines how the hard work following the Annapolis meeting has yet to begin (13.) A Daily Star (Lebanon) opinion by Princeton university visiting professor Daoud Kuttab urges that the U.S. develop a 'Plan B' in case post-Annapolis talks fail (15.) An Asharq Alawsat opinion by editor-in-chief Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed looks at how Syria's attendance at Annapolis contributed positively to intra-Mideast relations (16.) Haaretz (Israel) looks at how the Palestinians achieved two of three of their goals for the joint understanding (19.)

Gathering Israelis And Arabs May Have Been The Real Feat
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Michael Abramowitz - November 28, 2007 - 3:33pm

Grinning broadly, President Bush extended his arms around Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and pulled them together for a group photo yesterday on the grounds of the Naval Academy in Annapolis.

How Annapolis Helps
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by David Ignatius - (Opinion) November 28, 2007 - 3:34pm

After watching President Bush earnestly deliver his benediction to the Annapolis peace conference, a caustic English friend likened the scene to one of the durbars held periodically to bolster the British Empire's rule in India. As with the long-ago gatherings of maharajahs, wrote my friend, "so the U.S. has convened its vassals from around the world to witness -- mostly in silence -- a grand event, the import of which is closed to them."

Mideast Peace Gets New Push
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Christian Science Monitor
by Howard Lafranchi - November 28, 2007 - 3:35pm

Saying "now is precisely the right time to launch" negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians, President Bush told the Annapolis peace conference Tuesday that the choice now is stark: between peace based on two democratic states, and extremism and violence.

History, Mistrust Hobble Mideast Leaders
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Richard Bourdreaux - November 28, 2007 - 3:39pm

The peace talks launched by the Israeli and Palestinian leaders Tuesday face a daunting array of obstacles. They will be overseen by two men who are weakened by extremists at home and speak for peoples whose attitudes toward each other have hardened since the last effort collapsed nearly seven years ago. Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, controls only part of his would-be state. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's coalition government faces a threatened walkout by right-wing parties that could bring it down.

After Annapolis
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from 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.

The Major Breakthrough: Bush Agrees To Arbiter Role
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
by Ron Kampeas - November 28, 2007 - 3:56pm

The most striking concession to emerge from the Palestinian-Israeli talks this week came neither from the Israelis nor the Palestinians, but from the Bush administration. The United States agreed to become the sole arbiter of peace agreements between the sides -- not only an about-face from a seven-year policy of "let the sides duke it out," but an unprecedented venture into waters even the hyper-involved President Clinton feared to enter.

Annapolis: The End Of The Beginning
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bbc News
by Paul Reynolds - November 28, 2007 - 4:00pm

That was the easy bit. Now for the hard work. All the old unresolved issues have to be tackled - the borders of Israel and the new state of Palestine, Jerusalem, Israeli settlements, Palestinian refugees. A pessimist, a realist maybe, can look at the target date for an agreement - December 2008, the end of the Bush presidency - and say that the agenda is too large and the room for manoeuvre too little for success to be likely, let alone assured. The concept is to create a critical mass of opinion that will enable the centre ground to be held.

Keep The Cynics At Bay
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Daniel Levy - (Commentary) November 28, 2007 - 4:02pm

Theories abound as to why an Annapolis conference and why now. Jerry Seinfeld would be excused for thinking that this is all a personal conspiracy against him - his visit to Israel was dominating the headlines until Annapolis came along. In fact some in the Israeli media have been drawing a rather unflattering analogy: the Annapolis conference resembles a Seinfeld episode - it's about nothing. Yada yada yada.

If The Conference Fails, What's Plan B For Peace?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Daoud Kuttab - (Commentary) November 28, 2007 - 4:07pm

American officials usually spend enormous energy highlighting the "process" in the Middle East "peace process." Only in the last 18 months of a second-term president or following a military engagement in the Middle East does the United States actually start to concern itself with "peace."

To Talk Peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jordan Times
(Editorial) November 28, 2007 - 4:11pm

Iran and Hamas most vociferously attacked the Annapolis peace conference, describing it as a futile effort to settle the Palestinian question, one that follows in the footsteps of previous similar moves, including the Madrid peace conference, which failed to deliver. Before a clear idea about the outcome of the peace conference that was kicked off on a positive note yesterday crystallises, thus apportioning blame or praise, a few remarks about the two above-mentioned entities would be in order.

Annapolis Diary / Who's In Favor Of Ending (israeli) Terrorism?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Aluf Benn, Shmuel Rosner - (Opinion) November 28, 2007 - 4:14pm

1. If there is a need for proof that nothing changes in Israeli-Palestinian relations, the joint declaration should suffice - the one that was signed a few minutes before President George W. Bush went to the podium and only after Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice put a little pressure on Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. If proof is needed to show that much has changed, then the whispering between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Abbas - a moment after Abbas finished his speech and Olmert took the floor - is proof of this.

The Palestinians / Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Avi Issacharoff - (Opinion) November 28, 2007 - 4:15pm

Minutes after Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert finished their speeches, Palestinian spokesmen rushed to the press room at Annapolis to lower expectations. Being well-versed in peace conferences that end with glorious fanfares but lead nowhere in practice, they warned that it is necessary to see whether the promises made at the conference are implemented on the ground.

Bush Promotes Middle East Peace Dialogue
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Steven Erlanger, Steven Lee Myers - November 29, 2007 - 4:37pm

A day after Israeli and Palestinian leaders committed themselves to negotiating a peace treaty, the Bush administration sought Wednesday to give practical and symbolic impetus to their reinvigorated peace process. President Bush on Wednesday with the Palestinian Authority leader, Mahmoud Abbas, left, and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel.

Rice’s Way: Restraint In Quest For Peace
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Helene Cooper - (Analysis) November 29, 2007 - 4:37pm

Three weeks ago, in a windowless conference room in the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice confidently dismissed the Middle East peacemaking attempts of her predecessors. “It hasn’t worked,” she told reporters traveling with her. “So, with all due respect, I’ll try it my way.”

Mideast Peacemaking: Hard Work Begins
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
by Anne Gearan - November 29, 2007 - 4:57pm

President Bush savored his Rose Garden moment Wednesday, celebrating the beginning of a new Mideast peace push with smiling Israeli and Palestinian leaders. It might be a long time until he gets another such opportunity. The old bugaboos of Mideast peacemaking remain unsolved and there are fresh obstacles that will make Bush's job as shepherd even harder. The U.S. role in new negotiations is deliberately vague, but Bush and his envoys are expected to prod and monitor both sides and intervene directly if talks founder.

Can Hope Triumph Over Mideast Experience?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from McClatchy News
by Dion Nissenbaum, Warren P. Strobel - November 29, 2007 - 5:01pm

The Wednesday morning newspapers trumpeting the latest fresh start toward peace between Israelis and Palestinians hadn't hit American doorsteps when the first crude Qassam rocket of the day soared out of the Gaza Strip and into southern Israel. Before lunch, Palestinian Authority police in the West Bank were using truncheons to break up angry mourners trying to bury a demonstrator who was killed a day earlier while protesting the new peace initiative.

Us Takes Ownership Of Peace Process
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Financial Times
by Harvey Morris - November 29, 2007 - 5:02pm

When George W. Bush this week read out the words of what historians will no doubt come to call the Annapolis Declaration, the Israeli and Palestinian leaders peered over his shoulder as if trying to read for the first time the terms of the contract they had just signed. Low down in the fine print was a clause that handed the US president ownership of the peace process as monitor and judge of their performance during the remaining year of his term.

Summit Surpasses Low Expectations
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
(Editorial) November 30, 2007 - 4:52pm

It started out like an office party that no one wanted to attend. Everyone felt obliged to put in an appearance in Annapolis, even though the first Middle East confab in six years wasn't billed as a peace conference, a forum for negotiation or, really, much more than a photo-op. Yet once the leaders were all there, with the TV cameras pouring an intoxicating adrenaline cocktail, the pressure to be seen to do something about the seminal conflict of our time couldn't be ignored.

Disdain On Both Sides Of Security Barrier
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Financial Times
by Tobias Buck - November 30, 2007 - 5:23pm

Gilo, a Jewish suburb south of Jerusalem, forms one of the countless frontlines in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Perched on a hilltop the quiet residential area was built on occupied land after the 1967 war and now lies just a few hundred metres from the Palestinian village of Beit Jala.

Talk Less, Do More
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Ynetnews
by Michal Radoshitzky - (Opinion) December 3, 2007 - 4:25pm

“The international circumstances that were created, specifically at this time, allow you and us to take a courageous step, which involves the need to make painful compromises and forgo those dreams which were part of our national ethos for so many years, and to open a new chapter offering hope for a better life for all of us.” (Prime Minster Ehud Olmert, speaking at the official memorial ceremony for David Ben-Gurion, November 27, 2006.)

Diaspora Groups And Israel Spar At Summit
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Jewish Daily Forward
by Marc Perelman - December 4, 2007 - 2:09pm

In a rare public spat between Israel and its supporters in the United States, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert bluntly denounced efforts by a coalition of American Jewish groups aimed at maintaining a united Jerusalem. Following statements by several hawkish and Orthodox groups that appeared to question Israel’s right to broach discussion of dividing Jerusalem with the Palestinians, Olmert told reporters on the eve of this week’s peace conference in Annapolis, Md., that Israel has exclusive purview over negotiating the future of its capital.

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