The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Annapolis and After

Posted in Israel / Palestine | 21-Nov-07 | Source: International Crisis Group

Jerusalem/Washington/Brussels, 20 November 2007: With the Annapolis meeting having turned into a kick-off event, new approaches will be needed to give the subsequent Israeli-Palestinian negotiations a chance to succeed and minimize costs of failure.

The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Annapolis and After,* the latest International Crisis Group briefing, analyses the difficulties surrounding Annapolis and the opportunities it presents. On the positive side, after years of neglect, the U.S. administration appears energised, and the Israeli Prime Minister and Palestinian President share a strong political need for success. But the meeting is occurring in a highly polarised context. Palestinian infighting has dramatically increased, Fatah is deeply divided, and Prime Minister Olmert has a fragile coalition. These will make it hard to reach agreement and to sell it to both constituencies and, for the foreseeable future, virtually impossible to implement.

“The fact that the parties have been unable to settle even on a broad statement of principles in advance of Annapolis is a good indicator of the political difficulties they will face”, says Robert Blecher, Crisis Group’s Israeli-Palestinian analyst.

The post-Annapolis challenges are three-fold:

  • bolstering chances of a deal: for this, the U.S. and others in the international community should be prepared to support the parties, including through timely presentation of bridging proposals;
  • changing the situation on the ground: negotiations must be accompanied by steps that point toward a two-state settlement, including Palestinian restoration of law and order, a comprehensive Israeli settlement freeze, reopening Palestinian institutions in East Jerusalem and regular and significant prisoner releases; and
  • building a more inclusive process: reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas and reunification of Palestinian territory are necessary for peace. Unfortunately, isolating Hamas appears to be a key motivation behind the Annapolis process – Israeli-Palestinian peace cannot be built on the back of intra-Palestinian conflict.

“The stakes are extremely high”, says Ezzedine Choukri-Fisher, Director of Crisis Group’s Arab-Israeli Project. “Failure of this process could discredit both the Palestinian and Israeli leaderships while further undermining faith in negotiations”.

“With weak Israeli and Palestinian leaderships, inhospitable political environments, intra-Palestinian conflict, a polarised region and a U.S. administration consumed by Iraq and Iran”, notes Robert Malley, Crisis Group Middle East Program Director, “prospects are uneven at best. But the decision to jettison the incremental approach and deal with the endgame gives some, however fragile, reasons for hope”.

To find out more, visit our "Arab-Israeli Conflict” page, which has links to Crisis Group’s reports and opinion pieces on the conflict, details of our advocacy efforts to date, links to other resources, and information on what you can do to support Crisis Group’s efforts.

Contacts: Andrew Stroehlein (Brussels) 32 (0) 2 541 1635
Giulia Previti (Washington) 1 202 785 1601

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*Read the full Crisis Group briefing on our website:

The International Crisis Group (Crisis Group) is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation covering some 60 crisis-affected countries and territories across four continents, working through field-based analysis and high-level advocacy to prevent and resolve deadly conflict.