After seven years of violence between Israel and the Palestinians, the Bush administration's most serious attempt to engage in Middle East peacemaking is predicted to be a failure. According to former senior United States’ diplomats, there is a “profound” chance that the upcoming Middle East peace summit organized by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will fail because of a lack of groundwork done by the American government.
After all the trips Rice and her American colleagues have made to the Middle East, they not only should have had this summit completely organized by now, they should have been putting the finishing touches on it. The fact is that nothing has really developed. Ms. Rice has made a noble effort to pull the necessary parties together, but that's not enough. The reality of the situation is that we just don't have the credibility and standing we once had in the world. America has cast its lot with Israel at the expense of being fair and balanced with the Arab states. The amount of money and support the US has given to Israel over the years (conservatively estimated at $100 billion since 1949) is unprecedented in terms of permanent foreign aid. With the War in Iraq siphoning billions of dollars per month away from the coffer, and Arab states becoming increasingly militant, the US is in no position to continue supporting Israel unconditionally.
The respective former senior US officials - Thomas Pickering, a former undersecretary of state for political affairs, Robert Pelletreau, a former assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs, and Samuel Lewis, a former director of policy planning - have several critiques for Ms. Rice and the Bush Administration for their handling of the Middle East peace summit. First, they say this meeting is occurring too late.
According to Mr. Pelletreau, “This administration over the last six years has neglected this major issue ... It is only now, in the last year and a half of the administration, that I think they are realizing there is an important role to play (in Israel/Palestine peacemaking efforts).”
Second, the former officials are saying that one meeting is not nearly enough. They believe that a series of summits would lessen the expectations and burdens on the lone scheduled summit, increase participation in the peacemaking talks, and prevent a potentially disastrous assembly like the one that spurred a Palestinian uprising in 2000. And finally, the three former officials believe that excluding Syria, Hamas, or any other country or group would be counterproductive.