I spent the last week of November in Israel and watched the Annapolis show unfold through the lens of Israeli TV. As expected, everyone in Israel watched that show with both nervous curiosity and cynical dismissal.
But the event that truly captured the public imagination and managed to elevate people's spirit above the mundane was one that occurred 200 miles away from Annapolis, in a place called Lake Success, and it took place 60 years ago, Nov. 29, 1947.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are well aware of the stakes; but, for domestic reasons, both are too weak to deliver a peace agreement that would spell unqualified success at Annapolis. Instead, both are looking for a formula that papers over their political difficulties and keeps the momentum going. They have therefore agreed to redefine Annapolis as a launching pad for intensive negotiations rather than a forum for the end game. For lack of choice, the United States is going along with the low-key approach. But the Americans remain keenly aware of the underlying regional issues that they were hoping the parley would help them shape.