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A letter from America

By David Singer - posted Thursday, 21 March 2013

Is there one intrepid reporter - among the scores following President Obama during his momentous visits to Jerusalem and Ramallah this week - who will be prepared to ask President Obama this one critical question face to face at one of his scheduled press conferences:

"Mr President: Do you regard yourself as bound to accept the written commitments made to Israel's then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon by your predecessor President George Bush in his letter dated 14 April 2004?

President  Obama's answer to this question is urgently required because of the following commitments made by Sharon's immediate successor as Prime Minister - Ehud Olmert - at the Annapolis Conference convened by President Bush on 27 November 2007:

The negotiations will be based on previous agreements between us, UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, the Roadmap and the April 14th 2004 letter of President Bush to the Prime Minister of Israel.
On conclusion of the negotiations, I believe that we will be able to reach an agreement which will fulfill the vision of President Bush: two states for two peoples.
A peace-seeking, viable, strong, democratic and terror-free Palestinian state for the Palestinian people.
A Jewish, democratic State of Israel, living in security and free from the threat of terror – the national home of the Jewish people.
It is clear that the implementation of an agreement will be subject to the implementation of all obligations in the Roadmap, on all its phases and according to its sequence, as concluded between us from the very beginning. WE will abide by all our obligations, and so will you.

The Annapolis Conference was unprecedented in the annals of the Jewish- Arab conflict - and its significance is explained by the Congressional Research Service - Library of Congress - in the following terms:

The United States invited 49 countries and international organizations to send representatives to a conference at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. Attendees included members of the Arab League Follow-on Committee (Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen), the G-8 group of industrialized countries, permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, fellow members of the international Quartet, members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and representatives of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The size of the gathering signaled strong international support for a peace process. The size of the Arabs’ turnout was attributed to their need for a strategic alliance with the United States against Iran, but also may have indicated support for Abbas over Hamas.

That Israel's Prime Minister regarded an American President's written commitments to a former Israeli Prime Minister - Ariel Sharon - as of critical importance in shaping Israel's official position in regard to the negotiations to follow  - and to publicly incorporate the letter in his speech before such an international gathering - indicates the centrality this letter has had in shaping Israel's conduct in negotiations with the PLO since 2004.

So what was in this letter that propelled it centre stage into Prime Minister Olmert's speech to such a distinguished audience?

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About the Author

David Singer is an Australian Lawyer, a Foundation Member of the International Analyst Network and Convenor of Jordan is Palestine International - an organisation calling for sovereignty of the West Bank and Gaza to be allocated between Israel and Jordan as the two successor States to the Mandate for Palestine. Previous articles written by him can be found at

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