We have heard the major speeches from Annapolis, and we see no immediate need to list our apartment for sale. Our neighborhood of French Hill abuts Arab neighborhoods to the east and north that might become part of a Palestinian state, but not this week. And probably not this year or next, despite the aspirations.
Ehud Olmert gave one of his better speeches. He began with a litany of charges against the Palestinians, and noted several indications that they were not ready for an agreement. But he moved to optimism, and a commitment to be flexible and to work hard in order to reach an agreement. President Bush was even handed, but noted several times that Israel would remain a Jewish state. This put him in opposition to the Palestinians and other Arabs who cannot bring themselves to that concession. Mahmoud Abbas used the terms Israeli conquest or occupation more times that I could count. His narrative has no room for Arab aggression that led Israeli troops into the West Bank and elsewhere.
The participant from Saudi Arabia made the point that Arabs could not recognize Israel as a Jewish state because Israel has Muslim residents. He did not mention that most Arab states call themselves Muslim, once had substantial Jewish and Christian communities, until they dwindled under pressure, to almost nothing in the case of the Jews.
The Washington Post summarizes the skepticism. It describes a demonstration against the possibility of concessions by right-wing, mostly religious Israelis; speeches and demonstrations in Gaza against any recognition of Israel's legitimacy; and a riot against the conference in Ramallah that involved one death at the hands or feet of Palestinian security personnel, who were photographed beating, kicking, and shooting at protesters.
"Israeli and Palestinian rejectionists -- the term used to describe those who deny the other side's right to a state nearly six decades after Israel's founding -- have hampered past negotiations and worked to undermine efforts to implement the few agreements that have been reached.
"But the hawks on both sides are particularly powerful at the moment given the political weakness of Olmert, who is under criminal investigation for alleged graft, ill with prostate cancer and still being criticized for waging a poorly conceived war in Lebanon last year, and of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president whose electorate is violently divided." (see http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/27/AR2007112701008.html?nav=rss_world)
A popular Israeli web site asks timely questions along with its continuous updating of the news. (http://news.walla.co.il/). These are not representative surveys, but occasionally the great tilt to one side or another indicates something about the national mood.
The site asked four questions in the days prior to, and during the Annapolis conference.
The first asked opinions about why Prime Minister Olmert was going to Annapolis.
Nineteen percent answered that he wants to make peace and 16 percent said that he is being obsequious toward the Americans. Sixty-five percent thought that he wants to forget the inquiry into the Lebanon war, or the police investigations of corruption charges.
Another question asked which issues the respondents did not want to compromise: the division of Jerusalem, the return to the borders of 1967, the Palestinian refugees' right of return, or dismantling of Jewish settlements.
Fifty-one percent answered that they did not want to compromise on any of those issues.
A day before the conference began, a question asked about the readers' interest in Annapolis. Twenty-eight percent indicated that they paid close or occasional attention; 28 percent said that they were more interested in football; and 45 percent did not know that the conference was about to begin.
A final question asked if respondents thought that there would be an agreement before the end of 2008. Thirty-one percent thought that there would not be an agreement in coming years, and 51 percent said there would never be an agreement.
My guess is that we can stay in French Hill until it is time for a seniors' facility. Anyone looking to buy an apartment here can check the newspapers. Ours is not for sale.Posted by Ira Sharkansky at November 28, 2007 12:33 AM