A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
November 21, 2007 Invitation Goes Out for Annapolis
The official invitations have gone out for Annapolis and everyone, including Syria, is expected next Tuesday. Forty countries have been invited, including all the members of the Arab League. The big question is how many will show up. Tomorrow the Arab League is meeting and some observers believe that they will vote to send all their foreign ministers.
Prime Minister Olmert was a little surprised by the invitation that was received today. It was originally expected that the summit was to be called to begin the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. The invitation in fact read a conference to negotiate a regional peace agreement. According to Israeli sources, the new wording was the result of a phone conversation between President Bush and the Saudi King last night.
Israel is turning over 40 armored cars to the Palestinian Authority today. This is to help ensure that they can maintain control in an event of a Hamas takeover. The IDF has objected to this action, believing that the cars will eventually be used against Israel. The army has little faith in Fatah's ability to maintain control. They may be guided by what they are seeing on the ground. Most leading members of Fatah have been buying homes in other parts of the Arab world. On the other hand, I am not sure what the army is worried about since the armored cars would merely be great targets for Israeli helicopters or planes in the case of problems down the road.
What are the chances for any progress at the summit? Most people think they are close to zero. In recent history there have never been so many moving pieces in the puzzle of the Middle East. We are about to enter the last year of a Lame Duck Presidency, never a good time to try to bring about a peace agreement. We have weak leaders at the moment in Israel, the Palestinian Authority and in the US. Can their very weakness be used not to fail, but rather bring about progress? Maybe, but it is very unlikely.