Annapolis Conference

Annapolis Conference

:"For the revolutionary legislature of the Colony of Maryland, see Annapolis Convention (1774-1776).":"For the meeting that resulted in the United States Constitutional Convention, see Annapolis Convention (1786)"The Annapolis Conference was a Middle East peace conference held on November 27, 2007, at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, United States. The conference marked the first time a two-state solution was articulated as the mutually agreed-upon outline for addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The conference ended with the issuing of a joint statement from all parties.


U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice organized and hosted the conference. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and U.S. President George W. Bush attended the meeting. [" [ Abbas says upcoming Mideast conference 'a new beginning'] ", "People's Daily", 09-29-2007.] A partial list of over 40 invitees was released on 20 November 2007, including China, the Arab League, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations; [ [ Haaretz, 20 November 2007, Partial list of confirmed invitees to Annapolis peace summit] ] most of whom have accepted the invitation.

Syria and Saudi Arabia were initially skeptical about participating in the conference, with Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinians meeting in Sharm el-Sheik on 22 November 2007 and calling for broad Arab attendance. [ [ Egypt, Jordan, Palestinians try to sell skeptical Arabs and Islams on Annapolis conference - International Herald Tribune ] ]

Saudi Arabia initially insisted that all 'core issues' should be discussed, the most important of which are borders and Israeli settlements, the status of Jerusalem, and the Palestinian right of return, as a condition for Saudi participation. On 4 November 2007, P.M. Olmert declared that all core issues were on the Annapolis agenda. [ [ Olmert: Core issues are on the Annapolis agenda] , "Haaretz", 4 November 2007] The Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia, Saud al-Faisal, finally announced on 23 November 2007 that he would participate due to the near-Arab consensus on the summit, following an Arab League meeting in Cairo. [ [ Haaretz, 23 November 2007] ] On 26 November 2007, it was reported that despite his decision to attend, Saud al-Faisal had announced that he would neither shake the hand of Ehud Olmert, nor converse with him during the summit, since he is coming for business and not for political plays, [ [,7340,L-3476036,00.html Ynetnews, 26 November, 2007] ] while Ehud Olmert said that a hand shake is not necessary.Although the decision to attend by the Arab League states was supposedly a collective one, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem insisted, following the League meeting, that Syria had not yet made a decision due to uncertainty over whether the issue of the Golan Heights would be on the agenda. [ [ Yahoo News] ] The rebuttal re-iterated an October 2007 declaration by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. [" [ Assad sets conference conditions] ", BBC News, 10-01-2007.] [ [ BBC News] ] Syria has, however, been given informal assurances that it will be discussed. [ [ BBC News] ] On 25 November, it was announced that Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad would attend. [ [ Yahoo News] ]

Objectives and background

The objecectives of the conference were in an attempt to produce a substantive document on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict along the lines of President George W. Bush's Roadmap For Peace, with the eventual establishment of a Palestinian state. A draft document was leaked by Haaretz on 17 November 2007, [ [ Draft, subject to approval, King David Hotel] ] with the final and forthcoming Annapolis Joint Declaration expected to outline the scope of what will eventually be final peace talks. [ [ Haaretz, 14 November 2007] ]

President Abbas and P.M. Olmert had been meeting repeatedly since June 2007 to try and agree on some basic issues ahead of the summit. [" [ Abbas-Olmert meeting postponed to Wednesday] ", Indian Muslims, 10-01-2007.]

A final round of discussions between Olmert and Abbas was held in Washington D.C. on 26 November 2007, the day prior to the conference.

The conference on November 27, 2007, took place approximately 30 years after Anwar El Sadat, president of Egypt, visited Israel on November 19, 1977 to sign a peace agreement. [" [ US Announces Date for Mideast Talks] ", "The Associated Press", 11-20-2007] and appoximately 60 years after the newly-created United Nations approved the UN Partition Plan (United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181) on November 29, 1947, dividing Palestine (Modern day Israel and the Palastinian territories) into two states, one Arab and one Jewish. Jerusalem was to be designated an international city – a "corpus separatum" – administered by the UN to avoid conflict over its status. [harvnb|Best|2003|pp=118–9] The Jewish community accepted the plan, [cite web|url= |publisher=Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs |title=History: Foreign Domination |date=2006-10-01 |accessdate=2007-07-06] but the Arab League and Arab Higher Committee rejected it. [harvnb|Bregman|2002|p=40–1]



Secretary Rice visited the Middle East on a four day tour of shuttle diplomacy in mid-October to shore up support for the summit, [" [ Source: Joint Israel-PA statement to address 'all core issues'] ", "Haaretz", 18 October 2007] and hinted at the General Assembly of the United Jewish Communities (GA), in Nashville, Tennessee on November 13, 2007, that Israelis are prepared to give up the West Bank in exchange for peace. [ [ Haaretz, 13 November 2007] ] This was Rice's 8th visit to the region during the Bush Administration.


Abbas stated that a clear agenda was necessary for the conference, [" [ Abbas calls for clear agenda for Mideast peace conference] ", "People's Daily", 10-01-2007.] and affirmed in early October that only a Palestinian state comprising the West Bank and Gaza Strip in their entirety would be acceptable, with any permanent Israeli control of land beyond its 1967 borders subject to discussion on a one-to-one basis. [" [,,2188046,00.html Abbas spells out land demand] ", 10-10-2007] He further demanded that all six central issues be debated at the conference: Jerusalem, refugees and right of return, borders, settlements, water and security. [de icon " [ Hamas bietet der Fatah Gespräche an] ", "die", 2007-11-10]

Abbas has said that he hoped to reach an agreement with Israel by the end of November 2007, [" [ Abbas, Olmert look into way of launching final negotiations: PLO official] ", "People's Daily", 10-03-2007,] which Abbas would then put to a referendum. [" [ Abbas to call for referendum in case deal reached with Israel:official] ", "People's Daily", 10-03-2007] Furthermore, he has expressed his hope that a final agreement with Israel would be possible within six months of the conference. [" [ Abbas, Olmert likely to meet Tuesday: Erekat] ", "People's Daily", 09-30-2007]


In October 2007, Prime Minister Olmert indicated that he would be willing to give parts of East Jerusalem to the Palestinians as part of a broader peace settlement at Annapolis, [ [ New York Times, "Israelis Press Plan to Block the Division of Jerusalem", By Isabel Kershner, November 15, 2007] ] drawing considerable criticism from right-wing Israeli and foreign Jewish organizations and Christian Zionists. [ [ The Jewish Week, "New Coalition To Fight Any Jerusalem Division, Orthodox, Evangelicals join forces to oppose Olmert’s intentions in advance of Annapolis summit", James Besser, 10/18/2007] ] [ [ Christian Broadcast Network, "Is Mideast Peace Conference a Mistake"? By Chris Mitchell, November 13, 2007] ] [ [ IHC News, "Coalition MKs, Opposition Support United Jerusalem Bill", By Amihai Zippor, 15 November 2007] ]

On November 27, 2007, Ovadia Yosef, the spiritual leader of the Shas party, announced that his party would leave the government coalition, thereby ending the coalition's majority in the Knesset, if Ehud Olmert agreed to divide Jerusalem. Shas minister Eli Yishai explained: "Jerusalem is above all political considerations. I will not help enable concessions on Jerusalem." [ [,7340,L-3476045,00.html Yosef: Shash will quit government if J'lem divided, By Neta Sela, November 27, 2007] ] Olmert's ability to follow through on his earlier comments about concessions in East Jerusalem is therefore in question.


Prior to the conference, President Bush met with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in the White House. [ [,0,4136060.story LA Times - Mideast Peace Conference Opens] ] After meeting with Olmert and Abbas, President Bush read from a joint statement, signed by both parties, supporting a Two-State Solution. "We agreed to immediately launch good faith, bilateral negotiations in order to conclude a peace treaty resolving all outstanding issues, including core issues, without exception," and that, "The final peace settlement will establish Palestine as a homeland for the Palestinian people just as Israel is the homeland for the Jewish people." [ [ Haaretz, 27 November 2007] , Israel, PA agree to reach accord by end of 2008.]



The Annapolis Conference differed from previous Middle East peace conferences in several respects:
* This was the first time both sides (Israeli and Palestinian) have entered a conference with a common understanding that the final state of Palestinian-Israeli peace will be a two-state solution.
* This was the first time Palestinians spoke for themselves, instead of being part of a delegation, such as the Arab League.
* This was the most politically fragmented that the Palestinians have been going into a conference.
* This is the first time in several decades that the context of the conference did not include adversarial positions from either the United Nations or the European Union against the Israelis. Going into the conference, the U.N. and E.U. were both largely behind the U.S. effort.
* Similarly, the importance of the Quartet on the Middle East has been diminished since it was first formed. At the Annapolis Conference, the U.S. played the major mediator role, with the other three members of the original Quartet assuming lower status positions.

Protests and boycotts

Hamas and Ali Khamenei of Iran have called for a boycott of the conference, [" [ Haniya urges conference boycott] ", BBC News, October 6, 2007.] [ [ BBC NEWS | Middle East | Iran leader urges summit boycott ] ] and on November 23 Hamas held a demonstration in the Gaza Strip. []

The president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has denounced the event, stating that "This is a political show for the media which is in Israel's interest". [,7340,L-3475503,00.html Ynet News article, November 25, 2007]

On the other hand, Jewish activists and organizations opposed to Israel's concession of any part of Jerusalem or "Judea and Samaria" (the historical term for what has become widely known as the West Bank), in a peace settlement have become increasingly vocal against the Olmert government, with protests planned in front of Israeli embassies in New York and Washington D.C. during the summit. [ [ Realistic Dove, Dan Fleshler] ] On November 27, 2007, Rabbi Dov Lior of the Yesha Rabbis Council called an "emergency meeting" in order to discuss the upcoming conference. During the meeting, Lior stated: "No leader, in any generation, has the right to give away Eretz Israel… we call on the Jews abroad, and especially on community leaders and rabbis, to join us in our efforts against this treaty and its implications... Together, we will save the people of Israel from the government's terrible plan." Lior further stated that peace would only be achieved by " [cleansing] the country of Arabs and [resettling] them in the countries where they came from." [ [,7340,L-3476150,00.html Rabbi: Cleanse country of Arabs - Israel Jewish Scene, Ynetnews ] ]

A number of large mainstream American Jewish and Christian groups joined together with a majority of Knesset to oppose any negotiation that would include altering Jerusalem's status. They formed the Coordinating Council on Jerusalem.


Organizations that approve of the conference are also mobilizing and preparing to demonstrate their support for the summit. [ [ Rally to Protest Against The Division of Jerusalem] ] [ [ UPF Statement on Annapolis Peace Talks] ] The United Nations is preparing a resolution to be adopted by the Security Council on November 30, 2007 expressing support for the outcome of the conference. The resolution was withdrawn after Israel raised complaints. [ [ Haaretz, 30 November 2007] , "U.S. withdraws UN Annapolis resolution after Israel objects" ]

ee also

*One-state solution


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