RAMALLAH - Despite the celebratory atmosphere and the feeling that the end of the Israeli-Arab conflict is just around the corner, many Palestinians fear that their delegation to the US-hosted Annapolis peace summit may be returning home empty-handed.
"President (George) Bush already promised that a Palestinian state would be established in two years and apologized that he was not able to make it happen," a senior Palestinian official from Ramallah told Ynet Tuesday night.
Senior Palestinian Authority officials are saying that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas may have been better off steering clear of the peace summit in Annapolis.
In order to receive mere declarations of intent, he didn't have to travel all the way to Maryland, they said.
In the behind-the-scenes diplomatic battle that went on between the Israeli and Palestinians delegations, the feeling among some PA officials is that the Israelis came out as the victors.
"The Israelis can claim that until the end of 2008 or until the end of time that the Palestinians are not holding up their end of the deal," one Palestinian said.
"There is no acceptable supervisory mechanism that will dictate who applied what, there just isn't—and this is the most important thing—there is no mention of core issues, boundaries or in what political framework these issues will be solved."
Dinner table discussion
This is the main problem for most Palestinians: They have had their fill of encouraging declarations.
"The questions of what price will have to be paid to solve the conflict was not answered during the speeches and will apparently not receive a response at the conference at all and it is doubtful whether, during an US election year, any answer to this matter will be provided," the senior Palestinian source said.
The one hope that the few Palestinians who still receive a wage from the Palestinian Authority still hold is that the momentum created by the Annapolis summit will help boost the chances for success of the donors' conference that is set to take place in Paris, France next month.
The hot topic at the dinner table at the house where I was hosted in Ramallah didn't concern the goings-on in Maryland. Rather, the central matter of discussion was if it was proper to suppress anti-Annapolis demonstrations, which resulted in dozens of injuries and even the death of one Palestinian protester.
The Ramallah residents wondered whether Palestinians should kill each other for the benefit of a photo shoot meant to serve US interests.