Monday, November 19, 2007

Better Than Bombing: Photo-Op Diplomacy

Confusion is the prevailing mode over an Administration initiative for a 24-hour Mideast conference to jump-start Israeli-Palestinian peace talks before President Bush leaves office.

With a target date (maybe) less than two weeks away, there is no firm schedule and no agenda. No invitations have been sent for the meeting at Annapolis, but diplomats from countries hoping to attend have been booking hotel rooms all over Washington for late November and early December.

"No one seems to know what is happening," one senior Arab envoy tells the Washington Post, speaking anonymously to avoid appearing out of the loop. "I am completely lost."

"American officials," the New York Times reports, "are not sure that the negotiations...will succeed. Others worry that...the Bush administration has not done the diplomatic groundwork necessary to get the negotiations off to a rapid and serious start, or that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will not be able to spend the time necessary to keep the parties moving ahead when the difficult issues of borders, security, refugees and Jerusalem surface in all their excruciating detail."

It sounds like something being arranged by those who planned for post-war Iraq, but the good news is that this time they are promoting the long-forgotten "road map" to Mideast peace, and there are no military operations involved.

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