It's started; let's hope for the best. This conference has caused a few sparks, so we'll just have to wait and see if it comes out with any useful solution. Here are a few speech excerpts so far:
Bush; "Today, Palestinians and Israelis each understand that helping the other to realize their aspirations is the key to realizing their own — and both require an independent, democratic, viable Palestinian state"
"Our purpose here in Annapolis is not to conclude an agreement. Rather, it is to launch negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians. For the rest of us, our job is to encourage the parties in this effort — and to give them the support they need to succeed."
Abbas; "We want East Jerusalem to be our capital, and to have open relations with West Jerusalem, and to allow all believers from all faiths to practice their rituals and to reach sacred places without unfairness and on the basis of what is guaranteed by international and human laws"
"I have the right here to defend openly and with no hesitation the right of my people to see a new dawn, with no occupation, no settlement, no separation wall, no prisons with thousands of prisoners, no assassinations, no siege, and no roadblocks around villages and cities"
Olmert; (speaking directly to the Arabs) "It is time to end the boycott and alienation toward the state of Israel. We no longer and you no longer have the privilege of clinging to dreams which are disconnected from the suffering of our peoples"
"I am pleased to see here in this hall representatives of Arab countries. Most of them do not have diplomatic relations with Israel. The time has come for you as well."
"We cannot continue to stand by indefinitely and to watch the -- watch you standing and watching from the sidelines, watching the peace train, as it were, going by. The time has come to end the boycott, the alienation and the obliviousness toward the state of Israel. It does not help you and it hurts us."
Overall, looking at just the conference separated from everything else, the outlook seems to be good. However, a lot of skepticism surrounds the conference, and at how realistically either side would compromise to reach a final solution.
The result of the conference was the continuation of long-stalled peace talks, which is always good, no matter what the situation. The presence of many arab states at the conference, including Saudi and Syria, is also a strong backing for the conference. Where things will go from here, we don't know, but hopefully this will be a catalyst for change.
As for all those who oppose the conference; to them I say, what other solution do you have to provide? The only solution you accept is the land to be given back completely to the Palestinians? Well, unfortunately that is but a pipe dream that will not happen if you just sit on the sidelines and watch, so talks are the only way forward. Let's see what the next few months will hold.
A Palestinian police officer aims his automatic weapon at protesters, during a demonstration against the U.S. sponsored Annapolis meeting in the West Bank city of Hebron