Practical Steps Beyond Annapolis
November 27, 2007
Israeli and Palestinian leaders seeking to resolve their differences in Annapolis may as well meet on the moon. Beyond the wide gaps on the core issues, the Annapolis framework ignores the harsh reality that Hamas is shut out of the process while poised to violently derail the entire effort. It is based on wishful thinking that so-called moderate Palestinian forces will be strong enough to overpower hardliners and enforce a final agreement. Though it has positive elements, the strategy is likely to fail. But progress is possible, and still within reach. An effort to end hostilities based on a long term cease-fire stands a better chance of success than pushing for a comprehensive agreement that neither side is capable of implementing. The opportunity should be seized while Hamas, and other spoilers, may be willing to stomach such an approach.
Despite low expectations of a breakthrough, a majority of Palestinians and Israelis want to end the daily cycle of violence. Yet they doubt that negotiating a final agreement will get them there. A long-term cease-fire that includes Hamas can create immediate progress without requiring unrealistic concessions on the core issues of Jerusalem and refugees. In the interim, a number of options, including those outlined in the "road map," can be explored, setting the stage for more serious negotiations on final status issues in the future.