It is hard not to be skeptical about Annapolis. As author and activist Alice Rothchild noted in a recent article, “Perhaps a more honest name for the current madness is not the realization of the Road Map, but rather the steady creation of Road Blocks that are rapidly crushing the hopes for a viable two-state solution.” A lame duck Bush Administration (in any case not known for its diplomatic efforts) is, after 7 long years of neglect, trying to jump start peace in the Middle East. Throw into the mix weak leaders for both Israel and Palestine that have questionable mandates; the leaving out of Hamas, which was the elected government of the Palestinian Authority; and a refusal to discuss the key issues (1967 boundaries, East Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees, Israeli settlements, the Golan Heights and southern Lebanon) that have sunk previous attempts at peacemaking and the prospects for success at Annapolis don’t look too good. It is hard to talk peace when many Palestinians are focused merely on survival.
At Grassroots International, we believe that dialogue is important; and honest, difficult conversations are crucial to building a just peace between Israel and Palestine. However, actions speak louder than words. Israel has occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and Gaza for over 40 years and over that time span has systematically de-developed those territories while annexing valuable land and water resources. Gaza has always borne the brunt of this brutal occupation and is currently in the midst of a humanitarian crisis. Medicines are running out, fuel supplies are dwindling, shops are closing and agriculture, generally seen as a safety net during crises for Palestinians, is failing all due to Israel’s ongoing siege of Gaza. The West Bank has by no means escaped the effects of the occupation as its land is being carved up and grabbed by the Separation Wall and the expansion of Israeli settlements, while the vast majority of its water is being used by Israel.
Yes, dialogue is an important first step but it is not enough and, without actions to back those words and an end to Israeli occupation, the conference in Annapolis rings hollow. We join our partners and allies in calling for a commitment to the principles of international law and respect for human rights…without which, there can be no peace.
Click here to read the full statement on Annapolis signed by a number of Palestinian human rights and civil society organizations, including Grassroots International’s partner, The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR).