Will Annapolis succeed?
Bernard Lewis (professor emeritus at Princeton) has a brilliant article about the chances of success for the Annapolis conference.
The first question (one might think it is obvious but apparently not) is, "What is the conflict about?" There are basically two possibilities: that it is about the size of Israel, or about its existence.
If the issue is about the size of Israel, then we have a straightforward border problem, like Alsace-Lorraine or Texas. That is to say, not easy, but possible to solve in the long run, and to live with in the meantime.
If, on the other hand, the issue is the existence of Israel, then clearly it is insoluble by negotiation. There is no compromise position between existing and not existing, and no conceivable government of Israel is going to negotiate on whether that country should or should not exist.
Without genuine acceptance of Israel's right to exist as a Jewish State, as the more than 20 members of the Arab League exist as Arab States, or the much larger number of members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference exist as Islamic states, peace cannot be negotiated.
A good example of how this problem affects negotiation is the much-discussed refugee question.
In the other Arab countries, they were and remained stateless aliens without rights or opportunities, maintained by U.N. funding. Paradoxically, if a Palestinian fled to Britain or America, he was eligible for naturalization after five years, and his locally-born children were citizens by birth. If he went to Syria, Lebanon or Iraq, he and his descendants remained stateless, now entering the fourth or fifth generation
Which brings us back to the Annapolis summit. If the issue is not the size of Israel, but its existence, negotiations are foredoomed. And in light of the past record, it is clear that is and will remain the issue, until the Arab leadership either achieves or renounces its purpose -- to destroy Israel. Both seem equally unlikely for the time being.
Until the Arabs accept Israel as a Jewish state there is nothing to talk about. Nothing that has happened recently has changed in terms of their accepting Israel, rather the tactics have changed. Why is it so hard for the leaders of Israel to see this?
This is why organizations like Peace Now are so misguided. They claim that if Israel really wanted to make peace then peace would happen. Unfortunately, they are sadly mistaken. As Bernard Lewis said, If the issue is not the size of Israel, but its existence, negotiations are foredoomed, if the other side doesn't want to make peace then peace will not happen. As Professor Robert Auman said The very act of running crazedly after the longed-for peace is precisely that which distances it from us.
Only decisive, unambiguous victory for one side or the other can end a long, bitter conflict. Until Israel learns this there will never be peace. Organizations like Peace Now not only don't bring peace now, but like Neville Chamberlain, actually encourage the other side to continue the battle.