Hillel Halkin’s recent piece on Annapolis in The NY Sun is so essentially sensible in its basic perceptions that I recommend you read it.
Annapolis, he says, represents "the kind of mistaken thinking that has characterized every American or international attempt to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since the 1991 Madrid Conference: Namely, the belief that there is something in the world of diplomacy called ‘process’ that has an intrinsically positive momentum of its own capable of overcoming deep disagreements on substance between two sides to a dispute.
"Just get these two sides to sit down and start talking, the reasoning goes, and little by little they will find points of agreement that will increase trust between them and lead to an overall settlement.
"This is of course nonsense. There is nothing intrinsically positive about any diplomatic process. Such processes work when potential points of agreement already exist and can be focused on. When they don’t exist, all the processes in the world can’t conjure them up. On the contrary, they simply create frustration, disappointment, and rancor.
"And in the case of Israel and the Palestinians , such points of agreement do not exist.
"The Israeli-Palestinian conflict may not be exactly a zero-sum game, but neither is it a potentially win-win situation. If one side wins by achieving its goals, the other side will have lost…
"…A viable Jewish state and a viable Palestinian state west of the Jordan River are not both possible."
And then we have our inherently nonsensical foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, who exudes enthusiasm about that process we are soon to be engaged in. When leaving for Annapolis last night she declared that the whole world (the WHOLE world?) now accepts that Annapolis is the starting point for a process that will lead to two states for two people. Israel’s security, she says, is now accepted as an inseparable part of the agreement.
Oi vey, is she off base. She imagines, it appears, that the Arab states that have decided to come are doing so to support the process and abide by agreements that protect Israel. What she forgets is that most of the Arab world still seeks the destruction of Israel, and is technically at war with Israel. Has she not heard the Saudi pronouncements about no handshakes? And the Arab statements regarding the fact that they are not ready for normalization with Israel?
But what can we expect from the woman who put our security in the hands of UNIFIL and pronounced their protection of us (which is close to non-existent — as Hezbollah has rearmed under their watchful eyes) to be a diplomatic success?
Uh oh. Tonight in Washington , Livni is meeting with her PA counterpart in negotiations, Ahmed Qurei, to try to come to an agreement on a statement for the conference. Honestly done, this would be impossible. The gaps are too wide. But joining them will be "push-it-through-at-all-costs-because-I-say-so" Rice.
Then there’s the announcement that on Tuesday there will be plenary session called "comprehensive peace" at which the 40 participants will be able to bring up any issue they wish. Like Jerusalem. Or the Golan Heights.
I want to mention just briefly here a matter of concern to me, and to which I will return with greater focus soon. The Olmert government has declared that the residents of Shalom House in Hebron are there illegally and will be evicted. I say forthrightly that I don’t believe the purchase to have been illegal at all. I know the care with which the people there effected the purchase over a period of years. As I read it, no reason was given for the decision that it was not properly purchased — it was an arbitrary statement. It is not a legal or moral decision, it is a tainted political one, that will be fought hard.
This touches on the right of Jews to live in places of ancient Jewish heritage, and should be viewed with considerable seriousness.