But with the president embracing the mediation effort he largely rejected in his first term, the Republicans who hope to replace him sound like Mr. Bush did in 2002 when he made changes in the leadership of the Palestinian Authority a prerequisite for the final status talks he hopes the Annapolis meeting will spur.At a time that President Bush is at least as open to criticism for his policy and actions with Israel and the Palestinians, Democrats have consistently limited themselves to criticism to Iraq. Now their criticism of Iraq is somewhat muted as even the liberal press has been forced to recognize that the surge is being successful--yet they have yet to criticize a conference with 2 weak leaders, pressuring Israel, with limited advanced preparation to ensure success...
Mayor Giuliani's chief foreign affairs adviser, Charles Hill, yesterday told the New York Sun, "Israel, as a sovereign ally, can decide with whom it wants to negotiate. But it would be very risky to push toward Palestinian political goals when the institutional foundations of statehood do not exist."
Another Republican presidential candidate, a former senator from Tennessee, Fred Thompson, told a group of about 100 people in Sioux City, Iowa that he saw no reason for optimism with regards to Annapolis. "There's not reason for great optimism there to tell you the truth," he said, according to footage captured from the NBC affiliate in Sioux City "This has been a longstanding thing. …These are tough, tough problems, and a part anyway, of the Palestinian Authorities are committed, apparently still, to the destruction of Israel."
Mr. Thompson is only the latest major Republican candidate to throw cold water on the pending Annapolis summit. On October 16, the former governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney, told the Republican Jewish Coalition, "There's just not anyone to talk to right now who has those institutions in place." Senator McCain of Arizona on October 30 warned against going for a permanent solution all at once. "An encompassing, all encompassing, one-step solution was tried by former President Clinton and I think that's probably a very, very difficult accomplishment," he said.
Mr. Giuliani kicked off the Annapolis skepticism among his party's presidential nominees in August with his essay in Foreign Affairs. He wrote, "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."
Let's face it, the Democrats could easily condemn many specific elements of Bush's policy and handling of the Israel-Palestinian issue. Instead they talk about the need to do more than what Bush is doing and have had a hands off position on the Annapolis conference. Instead, they offer vague assurances of friendship and concern for Israel.