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A Circus Or A Conclave?

An article in Monday's Ha'aretz reports that there will be 36 countries in attendance at the Annapolis Israeli/Palestinian peace conference planned for next month. If anything close to that number participates it will be more a circus than a conclave. The fact is that the only nation outside the Middle East that has real cards to play is the United States. And real cards means influence with Israel. OK, by extension, you might also have France, Britain, Turkey and a few others just for historical reasons. This already means that the proceedings will focus on what the outsiders can force Israel into conceding. The Jewish State should not have to face down traditional enemies like the Russians, who are trying to re-establish themselves as certified meddlers in all kinds of conflicts, as well. They are already selling aircraft and missiles to Syria.

There is also the notion of a grouping of third parties to oversee and arbitrate the differences that will inevitably arise after (and if) any settlement between the Palestinians and Israel is agreed upon. That grouping has to be small so that it won't get mired down in its internecine conflicts, and it should not be comprised of any of Israel's enemies. The fact is that there are no outside parties that wish "Palestine" ill, certainly not the U.S. But there are many that wish Israel ill. The policing of Lebanon, it turns out (as we predicted), is not a model. Syria and Iran have been provisioning Hezbollah with weapons for a year now, and no one has interceded.

UNIFIL is not a model, other than a model of failure, utter failure. The same article reports that Palestinian sources are indicating that Saudi Arabia—among 36 countries or 26 or 16—will not be participating. The fact is that the Saudi monarchy is the most significant power in the Arab world. It may not have battalions. But it has not billions, but trillions, and trillions count. If Riyadh does not send one of its lofty princes, together with its ambassador to the United States Adel al-Jubeir, nobody will believe that Arabs anywhere are willing to turn over a new leaf. Without a new leaf no new history will be made to be read.