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How they see us: Why did the Arabs come to Annapolis?
Arab leaders have showed their true colors, said the pan-Arab Al-Quds al-Arabi in an editorial. By agreeing to attend the Annapolis, Md., peace conference
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rab leaders have showed their true colors, said the pan-Arab Al-Quds al-Arabi in an editorial. By agreeing to attend the Annapolis, Md., peace conference “even though all the preconditions” they had set went unmet, the leaders of Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia caved in to the Americans and Zionists. Arab foreign ministers simply abandoned two longstanding positions: first, that no negotiations could take place until Israel stopped building Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territories, and second, that negotiations would have to address the right of Palestinian refugees to reclaim their ancestral homes in Israel. Their rush to attend the ill-advised, U.S.-sponsored conference was a setback for the cause of Palestinian statehood.

But then, the point of the conference wasn’t really to promote a Palestinian state, said Yasser al Zaatera in the Palestinian newspaper Samidoon. The Arabs just wanted to show the Americans that they could all come together and sit down with the Israelis in a kind of “normalizing” of relations. “Important Arab countries cannot afford the luxury of refusal, because they know that the American master is preparing to attack their worst enemy: Iran.” What they forget is that the mere fact of the conference—“with its implied new wave of normalization that prepares the mood for an attack on Iran”—is, in itself, a success for the Jewish state.

We always knew the Arabs didn’t care about the Palestinians, said Iran’s E’temad-e Melli in an editorial. Egypt, Jordan, and even Syria just want to
make money by doing deals with the Jews. It’s no accident that the Arab agreement to attend was forged at an earlier meeting last week in Egypt, “a land that was the first to breach the united Arab line of the time against Israel” and that now has substantial trade with Israel. Each Arab delegate at Annapolis had one goal: “to show himself in front of the cameras as the hero of compromise and coexistence.” That way the Arabs can look enlightened and moderate in the eyes of Americans and Israelis. Never mind that the Palestinians will be left to starve, forever exiled from their homeland.

Actually, it was the plight of the Pales­tinians that caused Arabs to attend the conference, said Zuheir Kseibati in Lebanon’s Dar Al-Hayat. The fratricide between the two Palestinian factions, Hamas and Fatah, is a bigger threat to the Palestinian cause than anything Israel has done or not done. By showing up at Annapolis, the Arabs were hoping to stand united, and thus rekindle the Arab nationalism at the root of the Palestinian movement. If they had an agenda, in other words, it was not appeasing America. It was “the salvation of the Palestinian cause.”

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