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Senator Joseph Biden Pre and Post Annapolis Statements

The Foreign Relations Committee Chairman "Welcomes Israelis and Palestinians Setting Goal for Peace Agreement"

Senator Joseph Biden - Foreign Relations Committee Chairman
A release from Senator Biden from 11/26/07 -- "Annapolis Conference Offers Hope, But Middle East Peace Process Requires Active Engagement and Follow-through" is reprinted beneath the post-conference release

11/27/07

BIDEN Welcomes Israelis and Palestinians Setting Goal for Peace Agreement; Says Measure of Success for Annapolis Lies in Continued Effort

Washington, DC - Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE) issued the following statement today:

"I welcome today's announcement by Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas that they have set a goal of reaching a peace agreement by the end of 2008. I also am pleased that the two sides have agreed to an active American role in monitoring performance on their commitments under the road map.

"Olmert and Abbas spoke eloquently today of their peoples' aspirations for peace, security, and freedom. They understand the daunting challenges ahead and they will need the active support of all the countries and organizations represented at Annapolis. The Arab states have an especially important role to play in supporting the peace process. Prime Minister Olmert reached out to them and they should reciprocate now - and not wait until peace is achieved - by demonstrating their commitment to live in peace with Israel. The oil-rich Gulf states should also significantly increase financial support for Prime Minister Fayad's government.

"The measure of success for Annapolis is whether it marks the beginning of an intense process, not the end of one. A year is a short time in which to resolve issues which have defied decades of effort and go to the core identity of both peoples. It will require the kind of sustained, continuous presidential leadership that this Administration has thus far shown little interest in or aptitude for. It is not enough to hold a conference, give a speech, and then hand the issue off to lower level officials. It will take day in, day out engagement, at the highest levels, starting with the President.

"With today's Joint Understanding between Israelis and Palestinians, I hope the President has seen that he is able to serve as a catalyst for progress through his personal involvement. Ultimate success will require him to invest even more of his time and put his prestige on the line."


11/26/07

BIDEN: Annapolis Conference Offers Hope, But Middle East Peace Process Requires Active Engagement and Follow-through

Washington, DC - Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE) issued the following statement today on the eve of the Annapolis Middle East Conference:

"The Annapolis Conference offers hope: the hope of re-starting a stalled peace process, transforming the lives of Israelis and Palestinians for the better and securing American interests in the Middle East and beyond. I commend Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas for their personal courage in pushing ahead in the face of serious threats from extremists.

"Now is the time for the Arab states, in particular, to step up and show the same degree of courage as Olmert and Abbas. If they mean what they say in supporting a two-state solution, they should begin normalizing relations with Israel. The oil-rich Gulf States should also use their windfall profits to urgently support Prime Minister Fayad's government.

"I support the Administration's decision to invite Syria to Annapolis. This presents an opportunity to weaken the Syrian-Iranian marriage of convenience. Syria has to be engaged and tested - is it willing to end its interference in Lebanon and its support for terrorism in Iraq and the Palestinian territories? If so, then the US should actively support a resumption of the Syrian-Israeli track instead of telling the Israelis not to talk to Damascus.

"But none of these opportunities will automatically translate into progress without the kind of sustained, continuous presidential leadership that this Administration has thus far shown little interest in or aptitude for. It is not enough to hold a conference or give a speech and then drop the issue for months on end. The peace process requires day in, day out engagement, starting with the President. I would urge the President to make his first trip in office to Israel and the Palestinian territories so that he can play a more informed and active role in pushing the process forward.

"We have seen what inattention brings: Hamas in control of Gaza, political turmoil in Lebanon, and the emboldening of extremists across the region. A failure to follow through after Annapolis will bring more of the same.

"The hard part begins now. The President will have to put the full weight of his office behind a renewed peace process. Otherwise, the promise of Annapolis will become yet another squandered opportunity."