Republican candidates distance themselves from Annapolis

Wednesday, November 21, 2007 |  by Staff Writer

Leading US presidential candidates from President George W. Bush's own Republican party are distancing themselves from their commander-in-chief's last ditch effort to forge a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs before the end of his second term.

In less than a week, Bush will convene an ambitious Middle East peace summit in Annapolis, Maryland, though the gathering already seems doomed to failure considering the mass confusion surrounding its purpose and goals.

Not wanting to find themselves stuck in a diplomatic quagmire the likes of which Bush and his predecessor, President Bill Clinton, created for themselves, the top Republican candidates have expressed nothing but wariness over the idea of convening yet another Israeli-Arab summit when it is clear to everyone that the chances of concluding a meaningful agreement are nil.

It is risky and unrealistic to "push toward Palestinian political goals when the institutional foundations of statehood do not exist" within the Palestinian Authority, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's chief foreign affairs adviser Charles Hill told the New York Sun on Tuesday.

Giuliani first came out against a premature and irresponsible push for Palestinian statehood in an August essay he wrote for the journal Foreign Affairs, in which the former mayor noted that "it is not in the interest of the United States, at a time when it is being threatened by Islamist terrorists, to assist the creation of another state that will support terrorism."

Candidates Fred Thompson, Mitt Romney and Senator John McCain have all taken similar positions, each pointing out that the Palestinian Authority cannot be viewed as a true and viable peace partner when elements within still seek the destruction of Israel and the regime itself is incapable of exercising sovereign, sustainable rule over its territories.

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