Israeli prime minister
The Israeli prime minister, the American president and the
Palestinian Authority chairman (Jim Young for Reuters, November 27).
President Bush’s speech and the joint understanding
1. President Bush opened his speech by thanking the participants for coming to the meeting, which was intended, he said, to lay the foundation for a democratic Palestinian state living "side by side with Israel in peace and security” and to end the violence in the Middle East . He added that "we meet to help bring an end to the violence that has been the true enemy of the aspirations of both the Israelis and the Palestinians.”
2. After his opening he read the joint understanding agreed upon by the Israelis and the Palestinians. Its main points were the following:
i) " In furtherance of the goal of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security, we agree to immediately launch good-faith bilateral negotiations in order to conclude a peace treaty, resolving all outstanding issues, including all core issues, without exception.”
ii) Both sides "agree to engage in vigorous, ongoing and continuous negotiations, and shall make every effort to conclude an agreement before the end of 2008. For this purpose a steering committee led jointly by the head of the delegation of each party will meet continuously…”
iii) " The steering committee will develop a joint work plan and establish and oversee the work of negotiations teams to address all issues, to be headed by one lead representative from each party. The first session of the Steering Committee will be held on 12 December 2007 . President Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert will continue to meet on a biweekly basis to follow up the negotiations in order to offer all necessary assistance for their advancement.”
iv) "The parties further commit to continue the implementation of the ongoing obligations of the road map until they reach a peace treaty.” Both sides agreed to form a Palestinian and Israeli mechanism led by the United States "to follow up on the implementation of the road map … The United States will monitor and judge the fulfillment of the commitment of both sides of the road map.”
3. Other issued raised in the President’s speech:
i) The Palestinians "want the dignity that comes with sovereignty and independence. They want justice and equality under the rule of law. They want freedom from violence and fear. The people of Israel have just aspirations, as well. They want their children to be able to ride a bus or to go to school without fear of suicide bombers. They want an end to rocket attacks… and both require an independent, democratic, viable Palestinian state…”
ii) Abu Mazen and Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad "have both declared without hesitation that they are opposed to terrorism and committed to peace. They are committed to turning these declarations into actions on the ground to combat terror.”
iii) "… We must not cede victory to the extremists. ” Abu Mazen and his government "are offering the Palestinian people a … vision for the future, … a homeland of their own and a better life…” Their success "will deal the forces of extremism a devastating blow…” and "inspire millions across the Middle East …”
iv) "The Israelis must … show the world that they are ready to … bring an end to the occupation that began in 1967 through a negotiated settlement… Israel must demonstrate its support for the creation of a prosperous and successful Palestinian state by removing unauthorized outposts, ending settlement expansion and finding other ways for the Palestinian Authority to exercise its responsibilities without compromising Israel ‘s security.”
v) "Arab states also have a vital role to play.” They should support Abu Mazen and "work toward the normalization of relations” with Israel "and demonstrate in both word and deed that they believe that Israel and its people have a permanent home in the Middle East .”
The three government heads at the Annapolis meeting
(The National Press Agency, November 27).
Abu Mazen’s speech
4. The main points of Abu Mazen’s speech: 1
i) Abu Mazen began his speech by thanking President Bush , Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and those participating in the meeting, among them Arab-Muslim states, the International Quartet, the G-8 countries, members of the UN Security Council and European, Asia , African and Latin American countries. He said that such a broad spectrum of participants strengthened the resolve of the Palestinians to reach a historic equal agreement which would ensure the peace and security of an independent Palestine , of Israel and of all the countries in the Middle East .
ii) He called the Arab peace initiative a "brave strategic plan” which sought a change in the nature of the relations in the Middle East and to usher in a new era. That would demand the end of the Israeli occupation of all the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem , the Syrian Golan Heights and what remained of the occupied Lebanese lands (i.e., the Shebaa Farms). It would also demand solving the problem of the refugees in accordance with UN [General Assembly] Resolution 194 , as noted by the Arab peace initiative.
iii) The negotiations regarding all the core issues of the final status agreement : Jerusalem , the refugees, borders, settlements, security, water, etc. had to begin immediately ("tomorrow”).
iv) It was up to Israel to strengthen the negotiations " with direct, concrete steps on the ground: "to stop settlement activity, both extending them and by "natural growth,” "to get rid of the settlements,” reopen the Palestinian institutions which were closed in Jerusalem, dismantle the roadblocks, release the prisoners and ease the PA task of enforcing law and order.
v) The fate of Jerusalem is a "basic component” of any peace agreement. " We want East Jerusalem in our hands , open relations with West Jerusalem , to ensure that the faithful of all the religions will have the right to worship at their holy places without deprivation and based on what international and human laws ensure.”
vi) The PA’s government will continue to implement the road map with regard to the struggle against anarchy, violence and terrorism , and to ensure security, order and the rule of law. The primary national Palestinian interest is to fight terrorism, regardless of its source , because that is a danger threatening all peoples. The Palestinians must be given a chance to build their civilian, security and economic institutions, and the international community must support and aid them in doing so.
vii) Abu Mazen appealed to the citizens of Israel , saying: "Neighbors in this small land, we are not doing one another a favor by seeking peace, for it is our common interest… The time has come for the cycle of blood, violence and occupation to end…” He added that "today we extend our hands to you as equals… Let us create the peace of brave men and defend it for the sake of the future and all our children…”
viii) Abu Mazen ended his speech with an appeal to the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip and expressed his identification with them. He said sought the unity of the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as a geographical and political unity . He ended by saying the suffering of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip would come to an end.
Ehud Olmert’s speech 2
The main points of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s speech:
5. Ehud Olmert spoke after Abu Mazen. The main points of his speech were the following:
i) Despite his apprehension and doubt, he came to the meeting to extend his hand in peace and to begin a historic process of compromise between Israel and the Palestinians and Arab countries.
ii) Israel had "many good reasons to refrain from coming to this meeting. Memory of failures in the near and distant past” weighed heavily on the Israeli side.
A. "The dreadful terrorism perpetrated by Palestinian terrorist organizations has affected thousands of Israeli citizens, has destroyed families and attempted to disrupt the lives Israeli citizens… particularly in the city of Sderot.”
B. The internal situation in the PA: "The absence of governmental institutions and effective law enforcement mechanisms, the rule of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the ongoing activity of murderous organizations throughout all the territories of the Palestinian Authority…”
iii) The obstacles on the way to peace cannot be overlooked. To reach peace Israel demands " an end to terror, an end to incitement and to hatred .” Israel is prepared "to make a painful compromise, rife with risks, in order to realize these aspirations.”
iv) Negotiations will be held in Israel and the PA. They will be bilateral, direct and continuous in " an effort to complete [the process] in the course of 2008 .” The negotiations will deal with the core issues of the conflict which so far Israel has avoided dealing with. "I have no doubt,” he said, "that the reality that emerged in our region in 1967 will change significantly .” Negotiations will be based on agreements signed in the past, on UN Security Council Resolutions 338 and 242, on the road map 3 and on President Bush’s letter to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. 4
v) The final negotiations will realize President Bush’s vision of two states for two peoples , a Palestinian state beside the State of Israel , which will be Jewish, democratic and live in security, the national home of the Jewish people .
vi) The implementation of the agreement would "be subject to the implementation of all obligations in the road map, of all its phases and according to its sequence ,” as concluded between the two sides.
vii) Implementing the agreement would be part of " a much wider complex ” which leading to peace with all the Arab states. He called upon the representatives of the Arab states to end their "boycott and alienation” toward the State of Israel, and said he acknowledged the importance and appreciated the contribution of the Saudi Arabian peace initiative . 5 He added that Israel would relate to it during negotiations with the Palestinians.
6. The Palestinian Authority
i) Nabil Abu Rudeina , presidential spokesman , said that the Palestinians had not agreed to the joint Israeli-Palestinian paper because the Israelis had raised unacceptable topics. " They [the Israelis] stubbornly insist that the country will be Jewish, and we have never accepted that . They were reserved regarding the Arab peace initiative.” Therefore the joint paer was replaced by the understanding read by President Bush. The test, said Abu Rudeina, will be what Israel does on the ground and the United States ‘ willingness to exert genuine pressure on the Israeli government (Radio Sawt Al-Arab, November 28).
ii) Saeb Erikat , a member of the negotiating team, said that after Annapolis Abu Mazen wanted to progress in two directions: appointing sub-committees for negotiations as in previous rounds, i.e., committees for Jerusalem affairs, refugees, borders, settlements, water, security, etc. The other direction is fixing a date for beginning negotiations on the above topics several days after Annapolis (Al-Quds, November 27).
7. Senior Hamas activists continued their harsh criticism of the meeting and Abu Mazen. Most of it centered around his speech and especially the "concessions,” in their eyes, he said would be made. The following reactions were noted:
i) Fawzi Barhoum, Hamas spokesman , said he was disappointed by the participation of Arab states. Regarding Abu Mazen he said that he went to the meeting without Palestinian support and that he did not have a mandate to change the rights of the Palestinian people. He said that Hamas would continue the "resistance” (i.e., terrorism) to restore Palestinian rights (AP, November 27).
ii) Ahmad Yussuf, advisor to Ismail Haniya , called the meeting "a waste of time.” He said that all negotiations with Israel in the past about minor issues were unsuccessful, so there was even reason less to hope that negotiations would find solutions for core issues such as Jerusalem , borders and the refugees. He said the Annapolis meeting was no more than a "farewell party” for President Bush (Reuters, November 27).
iii) Sami Abu Zuhri, a senior Hamas activist , said that the main goal of the meeting was to serve Israeli and American interests, and not Palestinian interests. He said that Abu Mazen had commited a crime by agreeing to follow the road map , and that Bush’s statement was a step back because there were previous agreements which Israel had not implemented (Agence France Presse, November 27).
iv) Ismail Radwan, a senior Hamas activist , expressed his sorrow that the meeting was one-sided and that only the suffering of the Israelis had been mentioned, while the suffering of the Palestinian people had not been mentioned at all (in point of fact, Radwan was incorrect). That was because, he said, the real terrorism came from the Israeli side and it should have been mentioned (Al-Jazeera TV, November 27).
v) Salah al-Bardawil, Hamas faction speaker in the Palestinian Legislative Council , said that the Palestinian country which President Bush promised was "imaginary and indefinite.” He said that Bush had not defined its borders, a timetable [for its establishment] or its nature (Filastin al-‘An, November 27).
1 From Wafa News Agency, (Arabic), November 28.
2 Translation from Hebrew
3 A political program issued on June 24, 2002 , the realization of President Bush’s vision. It proposes a gradual, multi-stage and long-term solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
4 A letter sent by President Bush to the then prime minister, Ariel Sharon, on April 14, 2004 , in which the president recognizes Israel ‘s need for secure, defendable borders.
5 For further information about the Saudi Arabian peace initiative, see our April 6, 2007 Bulletin entitled "Reaffirmation of the Arab peace initiative by the Riyadh summit meeting (First summary and appraisal)” .