Hisham Melhem at PostGlobal

Hisham Melhem

Washington, D.C., USA

Hisham Melhem is the Washington-based correspondent for Annahar, the leading Lebanese daily; Al-Qabas, the Kuwaiti daily; and Radio Monte Carlo in France. He is currently the host of "Across the Ocean", a weekly talk show for Al-Arabiya, the Dubai-based satellite station. Close.

Hisham Melhem

Washington, D.C., USA

Hisham Melhem is the Washington-based correspondent for Annahar, the leading Lebanese daily; Al-Qabas, the Kuwaiti daily; and Radio Monte Carlo in France. He is currently the host of "Across the Ocean", a weekly talk show for Al-Arabiya, the Dubai-based satellite station. more »

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The Annapolis Summit
Don't Expect Much from Annapolis

The Palestinians are likely to face another setback at Annapolis, or a calamity similar to what they experienced after Camp David 2000. The U.S. will miss another opportunity to do the right thing.

The Bush Administration and the Olmert government could both live with a modest outcome, such as a vague agreement to continue negotiations, a partial freeze on Israeli settlement activities and lifting of some restrictions on the ground. Such an outcome will weaken the Palestinian Authority and make it more vulnerable to dissension from within; Hamas will see in such an outcome a vindication of its hard-line approach. Any agreement short of a clear Israeli commitment to live with a Palestine within 1967 borders, with minor adjustments, and an effective mechanism that signals the beginning of the end of occupation and a total freeze on settlement will be seen by most Palestinians and Arabs as futile. These are some of the views I heard and/or read expressed by Arabs from different backgrounds during a short trip to Dubai.

Many Arabs ask: Why did the Bush Administration wait seven years to re-launch the 'peace process'? They ask, with justification, where is the intellectual/emotional commitment of the American president, since no real progress can be achieved without his real engagement? Beyond that, this is the first time in the history of the 'peace process' that the three principal leading actors - Bush, Abbas and Olmert - are simultaneously weak, or perceived as such. Bush will soon be seen as a lame duck; Abbas will continue to be squeezed by Israel and Hamas; and Olmert cannot trust his defense and foreign ministers, who are sharpening the knives for the right moment to secure their inheritance. When Annapolis fails, many people - mostly Israelis, but also some Americans and Arabs - will blame Secretary Rice for being 'too impatient.' There is some truth there, but the larger reality is that Israel is ruled by small-time men (who said the Arabs have a monopoly on this?) and Bush has never been seriously committed to resolving this conflict.

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