Syria Has an Opportunity to Play a Constructive Role at Annapolis

Syria Has an Opportunity to Play a Constructive Role at Annapolis

This week, the United States is hosting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Annapolis, Md., in hopes of jumpstarting the stalled Middle East peace process. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has made several trips to Israel and the Palestinian Territories in an effort to bring the two parties closer to negotiations.

Rice has been working on the Middle East peace process from the early days of the Bush Administration. Bringing a just and comprehensive peace to the Middle East is a top priority for President Bush, especially in light of the negative aftermath of the Iraq war. As the Bush Administration enters its final year in the White House, the Middle East peace process is now an even higher priority. With Bush's approval ratings so low due to the sagging economy, the Iraq war, and other foreign and domestic policy matters, bringing Israel and the Palestinian territories to the negotiation table and achieving peace would be a boon to the president's legacy.

At the heart of the administration's peace agenda is the so-called Roadmap for Peace in the Middle East. The key component of the Roadmap is building trust between Israelis and the Palestinians. For the Palestinians, this requires ceasing all acts of terrorism, incitement of hatred, and provocation. For Israel, this requires ceasing the construction of settlements, releasing more prisoners that don't have "blood on their hands," and increasing economic and humanitarian aid in an effort to reduce the humanitarian crises in Gaza and the West Bank. Ultimately, final status issues will need to be addressed, such as the status of Jerusalem and the right of return of the Palestinians.

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